“Where Are Our Hearts?”
August 5, 2007 – Luke 12:32-40

All of the readings for this week in the lectionary speak, no challenge us with how we live our lives. We didn’t read all the scripture for this morning. We left out Isaiah and the Psalm, but they give us stern warnings just as our reading from Luke does.

So it seems I have no choice but to delve into what these scriptures are saying to us today. Thankfully, the Luke reading began with “Do not be afraid… for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Had we jumped straight into the parable of the coming master, or dealt with the thieves that come in the night, and the warning to be ready for it, we’d have to be afraid wouldn’t we?

But it doesn’t, it sets us at ease by telling us that God wants to give us the kingdom. God wants us to enjoy the glory of heaven. All we have to do is care for those in need, and be ready for when God calls us home. To, as Luke quotes Jesus, “Make purses for ourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes and no moths destroy.”

Purses, wallets, fanny packs, whatever method of carrying things you prefer to use, think about it for a moment. These things carry basic necessities when we are out and about. Things we need like money or keys. But they also carry things we might need. Tissues, make-up, drivers license, credit cards, business cards, and so on. They also carry things we might want to share with others. Pictures of children, grandchildren, pets.

We can carry a lot of things around with us as we run errands in a day. Many of which will never see the light of day. Think about our lives. What do we carry with us every day? What is the baggage in our lives that we carry which sidetracks us, cause us to get lost, lose focus on what we feel we should be doing?

There are things in our lives which keep us from receiving the kingdom, something we know God really wants to share with us. Things which keep us from being good disciples of Christ, keeping us from sharing in God’s pleasure when we receive the kingdom.

Jesus tells us “Where your treasure is, there also your heart will be.” This is a bit of a flip when you think about it. The world tells us we need to gather treasures in order to be happy. Businesses tell us we need their products to improve our quality of life and happiness. If we own enough treasures, bringing them into our heart, then we’ll be happy.

Is that what Jesus says? Does Jesus say “Your heart is where your treasures are”? No, he says “Where your treasure is, there also your heart will be.”

Steve Goodier wrote this about Marion Preminger…

Marion Preminger wrote about where lasting happiness is to be found in her autobiography All I Want Is Everything (1957, Funk and Wagnalls). Born in Hungary in 1913, Marion was raised in a castle, surrounded by wealth, servants and the notoriety of an aristocratic upbringing.

At a Viennese ball, she met a handsome young man, the son of an Italian doctor. They rushed into a marriage that lasted only a year.

She returned to Vienna to embark on a career of acting. There she fell in love with the German director Otto Preminger. They married and she followed him to America where he began a promising career as a Hollywood movie director. But her new Hollywood lifestyle could not sustain her marriage and Preminger eventually divorced her.

Marion returned to Europe to live the life of a Parisian socialite until 1948. Then everything changed when she read that Dr. Albert Schweitzer was visiting Europe from his home in Africa. She determined to meet with the notable missionary doctor.

She first encountered Schweitzer doing one of the things he loved to do best while visiting Europe – playing a church organ for his own enjoyment. He invited her to dine with him. After the meal, Marion knew she had finally found what she’d been looking for. She accompanied Schweitzer every day during the remainder of his European visit. He invited Marion to come back to Africa with him and work as an untrained staff member in the Lamberene hospital.

She left her life of status and ease and moved to Africa. Once there, the girl who was raised like a princess became a servant. She changed bandages, bathed bodies and fed lepers. She gave her life away to the poor and, because of it, found the happiness she’d craved for so long.

It was Albert Schweitzer who asserted, “One thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”

However, wherever and whomever you choose to help is unimportant. There are those in need everywhere. But when you figure out how to sincerely serve other people, you’ll have also learned how to be happy for a lifetime.

Marion Preminger’s lifestyle, her need for physical treasures, her selfishness, did not make her happy. She moved from man to man, husband to husband, high social position to another. Chasing an empty dream. A dream she would eventually find the treasure that would make her happy. How familiar does this sound as we watch the entertainment “news” about how young men and women, thrust into the spotlight as actors or musicians, clearly have not found happiness in their riches. They have more money than any of will ever see, yet they turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to flee the spotlight and find happiness. They can’t buy their happiness in cars, clothing, parties, drugs or alcohol. And where have these young people ended up? Rehab, jail, some have even died in their quest to buy happiness. Instead of finding happiness, many have found themselves lost in sin, and unable to escape the grasp it hold them in.

Two things caught my attention this past week as I was watching television, both of which bother me. The first is a new “credit” card. Really it is a prepaid card which can be used for purchases just like a credit card. What bothers me is it’s target user base. Teenagers. This card is being promoted as a tool for buying whatever you want, whenever you want it without having to go bother your parents for money. What message does this send our youth? What values and responsibilities does it teach them? It doesn’t, it simply teaches them that possessions and impulse buying are good, and cards are the way to do it.

The second thing was watching the stock market at the end of the week. Why the big dips? Because of the mortgage system, it was having big problems. Why? Because people were now defaulting on their mortgages. People who normally were not able to afford a home were offered a new, special sub-prime mortgage. This allows them to have low payments and buy the big house they’ve always dreamed of. Sounds good right? The only problem is that the low payments are only the initial payments, in just a few years the payments skyrocket. Some people are now saddled with $2000-$3000 monthly payments, and now are losing their houses because they can no longer afford them. Yet banks are making a lot of money off of peoples desire for owning more than they can really afford.

We need to know where our hearts are. We need to be sure of where our treasure is. Is it in our possessions? Is it in worldly things. The very things we were reminded of just last week that we cannot take with us? Our treasure is the kingdom of God. That is the real treasure. A treasure God really wants to share with us. When? We don’t know?

The rest of our reading from Luke tells us to be ready, because we’ll never know when Christ will come again, or when God will call us into the kingdom.

Jesus tells the parable of the master rewarding the slaves who wait for him to come home. The parable takes a twist, as Jesus often likes to do. As the servants meet their master at the door, he does the unexpected. One would expect the master to sit and wait for his servants to bring him his food. Instead, he seats his servants and then goes on to serve them! This reminds us of the feast we are told is being prepared for us in heaven. When we spend our lives serving others, as followers of Jesus, we are then rewarded when God welcomes us into the kingdom. God is so pleased with what we have done, by placing our treasures in heaven, by following Christ’s example in loving our neighbours, he will seat us at the great feast and serve us.

But Jesus is not finished. He talks about being attentive all the time. Just as we are protective of the things we own, hoping thieves will not take it away, even though we never know if or when they may be coming. So we remain watchful, making sure all the doors are locked when we leave the house. We also must be watchful… ready for the time when Christ returns, when God will call us home. How does this compare? Well, we are protecting our possessions when we do this, protecting our treasures. If our treasure is in heaven, then what are we doing to protect it? We of course cannot protect it can we? But what we can do is trust in God to watch it for us, as we continue to work and serve through our faith in Christ. Placing our hearts in God’s care, letting the Holy Spirit lead us in our earthly lives. Our own personal ministries, pleasing God at all times, waiting for the time when God will share this wonderful treasure that is the kingdom with us.