Sermon preached at St John’s at the West End, Sunday 28 October 2018
I think Markus asked me to preach today because nobody likes preaching on Job. Nobody likes trying to mount a defence for a God who seems to think it’s cricket to put such a righteous man to the test. So rather than wallowing in theodicy, I shall (respectfully) ignore God and concentrate on Job, and how he might help us address today’s theme, which is money.
We’re told that Job was the greatest of all the people of the east. He had 7 sons and 3 daughters. He had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants. Try fitting that lot into the nave. He was a Time Magazine Forbes Rich List Man of the Year figure, and a paragon to boot. These days he’d probably be a Harvard Business Review case study, and George Clooney would’ve won an Oscar for playing him in a mega bio-pic. He was, as they say, a big cheese.
We read Job, or hear it read, and are outraged. How is it fair that he loses everything he has? Well, Job knows. “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away” he says, rather sadly. Because Job knows that he’s not a self-made man. It’s one of our modern tropes, the self-made man. The immigrant who checks in at Ellis Island with nothing, who pulls himself up by his bootstraps, and becomes a millionaire. It’s the American dream, and all over the world we lionise entrepreneurs who started with nothing and became great through sheer hard work. And I imagine many of you sitting here can feel justifiably proud of where you live, what you’re wearing, the possessions and treasures that you own, because you earned them. You worked hard. You gave things up to get on. And we imagine Job was like that too, so we feel his pain as theft: the taking away of things that were rightfully his. Read More