Pentecost 11, 2016
Luke 12:13-21, 27-28
"The Emperor's New Clothes"
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Many years ago there lived an emperor who was so fond of clothes that he cared about nothing else. The emperor cared about clothes so much that he had a different costume for every hour of the day. One day the minister of weaving told the emperor that "two of the finest weavers in the whole world" had come to the city. These weavers claimed that they knew how to make the finest cloth imaginable; a material with the amazing property to be invisible to anyone who was unwise or unfit for their job. "It would be wonderful to have clothes made from that cloth!" thought the emperor. "Then I would know which of my men are unfit for their positions, and I'd also be able to tell clever people from unwise ones." The Emperor immediately gave the two swindlers a great sum of money to weave their cloth for him.
After some time passed the Emperor wanted to see the clothes himself and with many officials went to see the weavers work. Everyone who accompanied him was afraid to come off as an unwise or unfit person so they admired the fabric that wasn’t there and advised the Emperor to put that nothing on himself. The weavers showed him the cape, pants, and the coat but they were actually empty-handed.
The weavers dressed him in the invisible clothes. The Emperor started a procession where his servants walked behind him with their hands raised to hold the cape. Everyone admired him and his new clothes until one boy yelled that the Emperor had no clothes on.
I'm sure many of you recognize that story as Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes." It's a children's classic that teaches much about lusting after wealth and possessions to the point it blinds you. And while all who read the book find it amusing that the Emperor is so easily conned...we are often no better.
Our text says, "Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:13-21)
We too get caught up in the riches of this world. I get caught up in the riches of this world. Maybe you're a little like me; your dear Pastor. I would love to go out right now and buy a brand new pickup truck...but of course I don't want any old pick up... I want a crew cab with a diesel engine that can haul more than I will ever need it to haul. I'd like to buy a vacation home... but not any old home... I'd like to have a vacation home on the lake...or in the mountains... or... on a lake that is in the mountains with all the beautiful views one could ask for...not to mention having more bedrooms than I'll ever need or bathrooms to boot. I love going to Cubs games and I like the seats that we have...but I'd love to front row seats right behind home plate... or maybe the Church could get its own luxury suite. Do you get the picture? Often we have good things and are blessed by the Lord...but we get tempted by what we don't have... and we want more... bigger and better things. Satan offers us worldly treasures... new beautiful clothes... that in reality are rags at best that leave us empty and naked just like the Emperor.
But there is someone that offers us the very best clothing. "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!" (Luke 12:27-28)
Look at the beauty God has given us in His creation of the world. Glaciers, mountains, canyons, valleys, forests, and waterfalls. Oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers. Some of the places that have been pictured in National Geographic or images found on line often are draw dropping. That is the beauty of God's creation. That is a gift from God for you. And if God takes care of all of those places and all of the creatures of the world and clothed them in their beauty...how much more will He clothe you!
And indeed God does clothe you. Maybe not with Gucci or Prada. Maybe not with the newest Nike Air Jordan's (like the Air Jordan Silver hand signed by MJ for $60,000). Maybe not Versace or Dior, or Armani. But God clothes you. Even more than that God clothes you with something more valuable than all of the world's most expensive clothes...He clothes you with Christ.
"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4) "For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27)
Dear baptized...you have been given good and wonderful gifts by God. He cares for you. He loves you. He clothes you. He gives you all that you need in this life. More importantly He gives you all that you need in the life to come. In baptism you were made His dear child...a child of the King of Kings. In baptism your sins were washed away. In baptism you were given faith and the gift of the Holy Spirit. In baptism you were buried with Christ so that you would be raised like Christ to life everlasting. In baptism you were clothed with the most valuable garment of all...you were and continue to be clothed in Christ Jesus our Lord. God clothes you in Holy Baptism and no one can snatch you out of His hand.
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." (1 John 3:1) So we are. And that will not change! Amen.
Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen.