First United Methodist Church — Omaha
Rev. Dr. Jane Florence
October 8, 2017
Scripture: Matthew 6:19-21
Sermon: “Heart Condition”
Pray this way, the Teacher said, Our Beloved in heaven, sacred is your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Then the Teacher said, The kingdom of God is NOT like the man who stores up treasurers on earth where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal.
Adam was a real go-getter all his life.
He was voted Most Likely to Succeed his senior year in High School. And he set out to make that happen. Succeed. He applied to the most prestigious of schools and attended the best one with ivy growing on ancient stone walls. His good looks didn’t hurt him any; he caught the eye of a beautiful woman. Success was taking shape nicely. He quickly acquired that corner office with the leather chair and view of the park. Of course, he rarely noticed the view or his sons playing in the park; his head bent over important papers all day and long past their bedtimes. The mortgage was a monster, but so was the house – biggest one on the block. It was filled with only the best and all the newest gizmos and gadgets galore. Success.
His kids wanted for nothing, or so he thought. A prime security system kept it all safe and sound at the touch of his finger, or so he thought. Their screens were big, their closets massive, their wishes all came true, or so he thought. Success was his he had no doubt.
Birthdays came and birthdays went. They were lavish affairs he rarely had time for himself, but experts took care of all the details. He just paid the bills. Weekends he golfed, not for sport, but for the business contacts. He hated the game himself, but many a deal was sealed at the 19th hole to pay for all those symbols showing his success. So what if he didn’t make it to a couple of the kids plays or events each week; there were so many other parents at all those things; he probably wasn’t even missed, or so he thought.
Climbing the corporate ladder, buying the best and the most, saving up for retirement and kids college funds, all with roller-coaster stock market, volatile housing market, corporate downsizing, and outsourcing making 24/7 Bloomberg news. It all kept him up at night. What if his millions weren’t enough? What if he ran out of money? What a disgrace that would be- to be known as a Has Been- not Most Likely to Succeed at all. Money doesn’t guarantee a good night’s sleep, or security, or freedom from worry, or good health. Moths and rust and thieves filled his nightmares, stole his thoughts and his heart. Chasing greed, status, and power- success as it’s called –kept him quite busy until he dropped. It was a heart attack, or so they said. He didn’t even know he had a heart problem.
The Teacher said, The Kingdom of God IS like treasurers in heaven where no rust shall consume and thieves do not break in and steal.
Adam was a real go-getter all his life.
He was a happy-go-lucky kid with a soft heart and kind spirit. He worked odd jobs after school even before he was old enough to work a real job. Still, he never seemed to have much cash. He’d buy the milk for the family on the way home, or he’d buy lunch for some other kid at school who needed it. He took in stray dogs and got them their food. He bought flowers for his mom on her birthday – store bought flowers to light up her smile. He saved up and went on to college. His sweet heart won the heart of a wonderful gal.
He worked hard for his family, hard for his community, and hard for his church. Weekends were filled. After he finished his own yard work, he went down to the church to mow that big lawn. The kids helped out too; they worked as a team. They sweated together, laughed together, and ate their sandwich lunches in the cool of those big oak trees. Lying on their backs hugging the earth, they named the animals in the clouds overhead.
His boss admired Adam for getting his work done well and on-time, and for organizing the company community service days. Adam lead them to work at the local food pantry, or cook for the homeless shelter. One time they went to the schools and read to the children. Several of his co-workers ended up being TeamMates, mentoring youth, after that. Circles of good rippled out far from Adam that he didn’t even know about.
Adam did well in his work and was rewarded for it. He got the big promotion and the big pay to go with it. Others thought he would buy a bigger house or a new car or a fancy new wardrobe. But success didn’t change Adam. He said his roof over his head was just fine; he had food in his belly, and his clothes still covered his backside. He had some funds for retirement and some for his kids college, but he wanted them to work too he thought. He sleeps well at night; lives simply and trusts his simple means will suffice.
His neighbor, Stan, was always asking Adam, “why do you do all that extra stuff? Why do you give so much away? You trying to buy a ticket to heaven?” he asked. “Does your church make you do all these things? Or threaten you with hell if you don’t?” he mocked.
Time and time again, Adam grinned and shook his head, “No Stan. It’s not about a ticket to heaven, but my giving does give me a way of salvation. I give and I care and I live simply. Giving saves me – saves me from greed and arrogance, and self-centeredness. Giving saves from meaningless labor. What am I working for, if not to share with others? My labor allows me to invest in others, to invest in my faith community. Giving saves me from hopelessness; I see that I can make a difference. I see there is hope for change when we all share together. Stan, I go to church not to get to heaven in the afterlife, but to have meaning in this one. I’m not earning a place in afterlife; I’m changing my life in this one. I’m teaching my kids what’s really important by doing so. It feels really good at the end of the day. I sleep well at night. You might try it, Stan, looks like you could use a good night’s sleep.”
The teacher said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The Teacher continued, “No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve God and Money. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”