Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Heart and Treasure

August 11th:

Call:  1 Timothy 2b - 10
Text:  Luke 12: 32-34  (originally to run through 40)
Worshipping With Chuck - Week Three

            Heart and Treasure

Back in May of 1995,
Two of the 15 students in the eight day school I attended
so that I could receive my license
as a United Methodist pastor.
    were rushed to the hospital
        One for about three days
        The other until her death a few months later

This was an unprecedented part of the curriculum
And at lunch after the second student went to the hospital,
the dean of the school said to me,
"It appears that God has decided to teach us about flexibility in ministry."
[Recognizing the challenges of the lesson, she also told me that she wasn't going to invite God back the next year.]

But, having been dramatically taught a lesson of flexibility by God
    I knew what I had to do
    When this week I realized that I only felt called
        To speak on the first three verses of the scripture shown in our bulletin.

And so, today's text from Luke 12 has been pared down
To only those three verses:  32-34.

In verse 32 Jesus begins the passage by emphasizing a point that we touched on last week
    "Do not be afraid, little flock
    for it is your father's good pleasure
    to give you the kingdom."

That is what God wants to do
That is what God wants for us:
    God wants to have us        in the kingdom.

In the second of our three verses, Jesus goes on to say,
    "Sell your possessions and give alms.
    Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out,
        An unfailing treasure in heaven
            Where no thief comes near
            And no moth destroys.

This also makes us think of last week
    When we looked at the portion of Paul's letter to the Colossians in which he wrote,
        "seek the things that are above
        where Christ is seated at the right hand of God."
And to
        "Set your mind on things that are above,
        not on things that are on earth."

So we should, as Paul told us to do,
Look for things that are above
Knowing that those things are eternal
And knowing that, as Jesus told us,
    The purses in which we carry our valuables in heaven
        Won't wear out
        Won't be stolen
        Won't be eaten away by moths.

There remains one more verse in our text.

But before we look at that third and final verse
    I have two questions for each individual here to ask
        (Whether in the pews, the pulpit or the balcony)

Both questions require facts - not opinions

Question number one:
    Let us each ask ourselves:  What is my gross worth?

To answer this question, we each need to add up the values of all our assets:
Property (both real and personal)
and     possessions.

In other words I ask each of us to roughly calculate
how much he/she owns    how much he/she is worth

Now, in answering this question we need to include
    All of our cars
    All of our televisions
    All of our phones
    All of our sporting goods
And yes, even all of our shoes

Everything !


Question number two:

This one also requires us to do some quick calculating:
    "During the last month  how much of
our gross worth
our income
    our time
and     our energy

    Have we used to help others?
        Through the church
        Through other charities
        Through direct personal actions."

I would suggest that each of us then quietly and honestly
compare our answers
to the amount we have used
for non essential items for ourselves.

Now,        verse 34    [It is short,   but poignant]
    "For where your treasure is,      there your heart will be also."

In the two questions we asked ourselves,
    We figured out      where our treasure is
Applying this third verse of out text
    We have also figured out    where our hearts are.

Are our hearts where we want them to be?

Or did the contents of this verse,
    Slap us in our faces
    Kick us in our backsides
    And/or distress us  in our misplaced hearts?

And those of us who found that we were slapped, kicked, and distressed,
    Probably have to admit that now that we think of it
        This was the second time that happened this morning.
For we were called to worship by the first letter to Timothy,
    Where after first telling us that if we
do "not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ"
        Then we are conceited     and [we] understand nothing,"
Paul goes on to write,
        "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,
        and in their eagerness to be rich
            some have wandered away from the faith
            and pierced themselves with many pains."

I am convinced that Paul would agree
    That among evil's roots, we would find
not only love of money
        But also    love of power   and love of prestige

In a sense, this morning's scriptures are like
those old commercials (from the 70s I believe)
where   after-shave lotion  Is slapped on a man's face
and he says:    "Thanks, I needed that."

But in addition to slapping us in the face
    To correct our poor stewardship of God's gifts,
This short three verse passage
    Can also correct our negative perceptions of others
        By showing us where their hearts are.

I stumbled onto this aspect because perhaps no one in my lifetime
    Has had her heart in the right place more than Mother Theresa.

Thinking of that, I recalled that on the Sunday after the week
In which both she and  Diana, Princess of Wales had died
    I had preached a sermon on those two women.

So I pulled out and reread my sermon of September 7, 1997.
I did so, to refresh my recollection and to find the quote attributed to Germaine Greer where she said of Mother Theresa,
    "She is not ministering to the poor of Calcutta for their sake
        but for the sake of her Catholic God."
[a quote to which I wanted to reply, "Duh!"]

But as that quote reveals, even her critic could tell
where Mother Theresa's heart and treasure were.

But, as I reviewed that almost 16 year old sermon,
    I found that I had spent more of it on the other woman
The vivacious young nursery school teacher who became a princess
And who died in an alcohol related motor vehicle accident
    After her less than successful marriage had ended.

I admitted from the pulpit that Sunday
    That I had not been an ardent admirer of Princess Diana
        [although I know exactly where I watched her wedding]

After all, she had been a jet setter and international partier.

Too, she, like her husband, had been guilty of infidelity

But I told the congregation that that day
that while watching the television coverage
        I had seen her holding sick and diseased children
        I had seen her comfortably and physically
            Interacting with Aids patients
            At a time when many wouldn't have anything to
do with them

        I had seen her sitting cross legged on the floor of a gymnasium
        With volley ball players
Who had lost their legs to land mines.

And so,
instead of a rich and famous party girl and dilettante
    I saw a woman demonstrating as much compassion as I had ever seen.

As I recall that today, I realize Diana - despite her imperfections -
    Had placed the treasure
of some of her time and some of her love
        With those hurting and disadvantaged people
And that by looking at that treasure, I had found her heart.
    I am sure Christ found it as well

You and I, like Diana, are imperfect
    But I would hope that when Christ searches for our treasures
    He will find    our hearts      in places like I found hers,
        places where the purses do not wear out.

May we pray with the prayer that Charles Wesley
Put into our closing hymn
    "Thy nature, gracious Lord impart
    Come quickly from above
    Write thy new name upon my heart
    Thy new, best name of love."
        ["O For A Heart To Praise My Lord" No. 417 (4)]