Chelsea Van Der Poel explores how regardless the season, God's goodness creates a hopeful new day.
On the twentieth day of Advent, 2021, Penny Kleemann invites us into the story of a new Way and reveals Jesus’ Alternative story.
Content without the cash?
Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ So we can say with confidence,
‘The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?’
Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:5-8 NRSV
Long since dusk was wishing away the last scraps of the weekend, I was gripped by an existential crisis as I sat on Semaphore Beach, Kaurna Country. It was that dreaded time of mentally preparing for work the next day. “Life,” I said to my friend, “it’s all about money.”
Our culture would have us think so. Conversations, aspirations, all forms of media, are dogged in the pursuit of it. It is an unrelenting template for how to live.
Not long afterwards I became a follower of Jesus, and read Wayne Kirkland’s excellent book, ‘“Just Money’.” Wayne suggests reading through the Gospels and writing down everything Jesus has to say about money, and it’s A LOT! Yet I wasn’t aware of this in my church denomination. Sermons on the subject contained little application for my life. Money-talk amongst Christians seemed to be taboo. Jesus followers throughout history have lived counter-culturally to money, but their inspiring stories were seldom told.
Yet money contorted is so threatening that Jesus warns us - money or God.
Into this strides Advent! Light zapping dark, prophets howling in the desert, upheaval of the status quo! Here comes Jesus, with the relief of God’s alternative story. A new day. A new Way.
I experienced this as freedom. Did I really want to amass more money, more possessions, have to maintain them, guard them, insure them, flaunt them, be ruled by them? No! How exhausting!
The major expense in life, for most of us, is housing. What a travesty that housing is wheeled and dealed to make money from, commodifying people’s need for shelter! I often wonder, if everyone’s house was paid off, would that radically free us to live differently?
Enjoying a cuppa and homemade bread recently, I realised I was content. I had faith, family, friends, health, a roof over my head. My basic needs were met. And this freedom from self-interest created headspace for a holy discontent over the plight of others, particularly, in these lands, for Aboriginal peoples. Did they have their families, friends? A roof over their head? Health? Wages?
This is where God’s new Way comes in. The big difference between our culture and Jesus is relinquishing the need to “own”. Instead, we understand money and possessions as not ours. We manage them for God, using them to alleviate suffering, bring about justice, and reveal Jesus’ alternative story. When we do this collectively, we can do incredible things! Indeed, this is how Common Grace is sustained!
During Advent we stare down two versions of Christmas Day. Our shape-shifter God, who gave up everything, versus the world’s version of get-everything. Money is persuasive, but a continual refreshing at our touchstone - Jesus, reminds us: there’s an alternative story. Content and free. A new day. A new Way.
Penny Kleemann lives on Kaurna Country. Penny is in awe of Aboriginal peoples and loves being in the company of Aboriginal peoples. Penny is passionate about Aboriginal justice, defending land, and being a voice for all Creation. Penny follows Jesus through a Celtic/Monastic framework, and when not ceilidhing to Scottish folk music, can be found meditatively tending her food garden.
Sacred Three - our greatest treasure!
Help us resist the love of money. Lead us to manage it for You. Shape us content with what we have.
Be it so.
Photograph: Leaf Klevjer, Sunset, Wollongong, Dharawal Country, New South Wales
Visual Description: Blue-grey clouds swirl above the ocean at sunset.