Pentecost 12, Proper 14
August 7, 2016
The Rev. Dr. Karen Coleman
Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is God’s good pleasure to give you God’s reign. Sell you 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. For where your treasurer us, there you heart will be also.
Yesterday, I attended a Memorial Eucharist in thanksgiving for the life of John Anders Jensen. I met John when I was serving at Christ Church, Needham. I was newly ordained and this was my first call. Christ Church is one of the cathedral (aka large) parishes of the Diocese. It was an excellent place to begin my ministry as I got a chance to experience everything I was have to know as a priest.
John served as a verger and sung in the choir, John was always there as a pastoral presence, teacher and mentor during my early priest years. During subsequent visits to the parish to attend events and funerals. John and I always shared a laugh and a prayer. There was a friend of his who gave one of the remembrances who said “we are not called to cry about the end of the good times but to smile that we had them”
Last week I preached about our connection with our stuff. This week Jesus is asking again about our treasurers. Where are our heart and our treasures located? What are those fond memories that call our heart to sing, not to cry when we think about them. What matters most in your life? Your retirement, items in your safety deposit box, you job, your car, your family, your title? Only you can know what is important to you. The thing is that we cannot take any of our earthly possessions with us when “our number is up”.
My friend Angela recently shared this with me. She was out shopping for a few things with her husband. They had a quick, cheerful exchange with a woman in the aisle. As they were trying to go past her in the opposite direction, after skirting around an employee with a stocking cart partially blocking the aisle. The woman turned to them as said “You’re Christians, will you please pray for me? I’m having a hard time”. Then she proceeded to break down into sobs.
As my friend and her husband tended to her, she was aware that they were both wearing the sign of the cross on their necklaces and that is why the woman made the request.
Here’s the kicker, Angela just bought her necklace that morning.
We have always been told that God puts people in places at the right time for the right reason. Angela and her husband were part of that message not just wearing the symbols. They acted in faith, not just for themselves, but for others. They didn’t judge her for who she maybe supporting in the upcoming Presidential election. They didn’t judge her for what she was wearing. They didn’t judge her for where she lived or where she went to school or what her profession was. At that moment this woman need hope and somebody to care. As my former Episcopal Divinity School Professor and now Dean of Berkley Seminary at Yale, The Rev. Dr. Andrew McGowan has said “there is something about the human condition that needs God. Let me repeat “there is something about the human condition that needs God”.
If the stock guy hadn’t been blocking the aisle, Angela and her husband would have never have had that encounter. At the moment they were not symbol wearers but they were symbol “doers”.
We come to church not only to be in communion with one another but every week we need to be reminded we need to practice what we want to become. To practice and pray about where God is calling us and where God is guiding us to God’s treasurer for us. To be ready for that wedding banquet. We come to practice and be ready at all times to exercise love and kindness to others.
When Jesus talks about storing up treasure. He is not talking about a heavenly bank where we can go to, and fill out a deposit slip and deposit our good works and make a withdrawal when needed. But if we continue to live out the Gospel here on earth like my late friend John and my friend and her husband. We will be moved by our hearts and not moved by our stuff. This takes practice. This takes reminders. This is why we come to give thanks and to open our hearts and minds to those treasurers that Jesus is calling us to. Our earthly bank may not be filled will all the money in the world but our heavenly banks are filled with those deposits that will fill us with gratitude.
I am going to end with the well-known call and response.
God is Good: All the time
All the time: God is Good