Sunday we will begin a series of sermons that I am calling “Christ and our ‘Possessions.’” Note the quotation marks around the word “possessions.” If you subscribe to the orthodox Christian position that all we are and all we have come from God then we don’t actually possess anything. Whatever material things we have are placed in our hands to be used, not as we would choose, but as God directs.

That all sounds fine until it comes down to what we actually do. We need stuff. We really do. We have families to support; we have lives that require us to possess. So much of what we decide to buy or hold onto is predetermined to be necessities. But seriously, how much of that stuff do we really need, how much of it enhances our lives, and how much of it is just there? Somewhere along the way we picked it up and now it is taking up space and has become a burden.

Throughout the next few weeks we will be looking at biblical teachings regarding our relationship to possessions and how our resources can be put to better use, but for now I have a suggestion modified from Jesus’ invitation to the rich young ruler: “Find stuff that you don’t use, need, or want. Sell it and give the proceeds to the poor.” That isn’t going as far as Jesus wanted the young man to go, but it’s a start.

Clean out your closet. If you haven’t worn something in the past year you probably don’t need it (unless it’s that tuxedo that you pull out for very special occasions, but make sure that still fits). Give your clothes to a clothes closet for poor people or to Goodwill, where they will sell them on the cheap and use the money for job training, or to a group that provides business clothes to people who are going on job interviews. It’s not going to kill you to trim your sartorial options a little bit. If you can’t remember what you wore on this day last week no one else can either. None of us need that many options.

Empty your storage shed. It’s a sign of the possessive nature of the American psyche that our basements and attics and garages are not big enough to hold all our stuff. If you need to rent a space I can almost guarantee you’ve got too much stuff. Have a yard sale and give the proceeds to a charity or, if you’ve got furniture or other hard goods that are in decent shape, give them to a charity that can sell them. Your kids really don’t want your Great Aunt Sally’s chifferobe.

Speaking of your children, give them an ultimatum. Get their stuff out of your house or it’s going to charity. Most of it will go to charity.

One more regarding your children. Do them a favor. Gather up all the things you don’t need or want and that you know they won’t need or want, and either sell it and give the money to a charity or give it directly. Don’t make the kids deal with it when you’re gone.

Here’s the hard one. Donate your used books to the library. I’m working on it. Leave me alone.

None of this is very radical, but it’s a start toward recognizing that the Lord provides many of us with more than we need, but that doesn’t mean we have to keep it that way. God expects us to share.

As I said, we’ll look at many other sides of this issue of our relationship to our possessions, but this can get you in the habit of letting go. I’ve done a little bit of it myself lately, and I can tell you, it’s a good feeling, one I hope you will share.