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'The Treasure Chest'


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For nearly a century, Lutheran Laity Movement for Stewardship assisted, inspired and trained congregations in important ways. LLM ceased operations on May 31, 2003, but the Stewardship of Life Institute is proud to continue its work by making its web resources available to a new generation of stewards.


‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’

 Sermon on Luke 12:32-40: “God will lead us into new and exciting adventures filled with spiritual treasures.”

 By the Rev. Kristi Beebe

Following are excerpts from a sermon delivered by Pastor Kristi Beebe during a capital fund campaign at Nativity Lutheran Church in Commerce City, Colorado:

The three texts for the day were: Genesis 15:1-6, God promises Abraham and Sarah children; Hebrews 11:1-3,8-16, Abraham and Sarah, examples of faith; and Luke 12:32-40, "Have no fear little flock ... for where your treasure is there also will be your heart."
 
What a marvelous coincidence it is to have these particular biblical texts as our lessons for the day. We are just winding down our month-long capital fund campaign for the building program ... which has been filled with excellent Bible studies; a variety of cottage meetings; sharing our stewardship and faith stories with one another; being given the opportunity to make a pledge to the building fund; as well as the celebration event this evening.

Look at these texts: they relate so closely to what we are presently in the midst of doing here at Nativity - taking a step of faith to go out and continue our ministry in another location. In our first lesson, we see Abraham and Sarah's faith in God's promise that Sarah will bear a child, even in her old age. In the second lesson, we hear of Abraham and Sarah leaving everything they have to travel to where God is calling them to go to a new land.

And then we arrive at the Gospel for the day, the familiar "treasure text" where Jesus tells people to lay up their treasures in heaven, not on this earth and then saying as a preface, "Have no fear little flock, for the Father has chosen to give you the kingdom."

The only explanation I can give for these texts being the lectionary for today is the Holy Spirit at work!

You are familiar with the stories about pirates who buried their treasures on an island for safekeeping. Well, much in the same way, we have treasures too, even hidden treasures.

(Pastor Beebe then opened a treasure chest that had been placed next to the pulpit and removed various items -- a picture of her husband and best friend, Pastor Scott Beebe; pictures of other family members; the church directory which represented each member; gifts she had received; airline tickets for a vacation trip; and her checkbook and money market account.)

Yes, these are a few of my treasures. You probably would include similar items.

Jesus says, "Sell your possessions and give to charity. Provide for yourselves purses that do not wear out, and never failing treasure in heaven, where no thief can get near it, no moth destroy it. For where your treasure is, there also will be your heart."

That's a difficult one, isn't it?

Yet, Jesus says these earthly items and even earthly relationships are not what are ultimately important. Abraham and Sarah left everything to go to a new place and begin a new journey.

In our lives we want to desperately hold on to what we have -- people, relationships, material possessions, power, prestige, and even money. And we don't want anyone else to tell us what to do with any of them.

We tend to think they are ours to have and to hold from this time forth and forever more. But these are only temporary.

This was never so true to me as when I rolled my Dad's car 10  years ago and fractured two vertebrae in my neck. I realized at the time just how precious every day of life really is.

Or when I came home from working here at church this past spring walked into the house and turned the oven on to prepare for baking a frozen pizza. A few minutes later I began to smell something burning. I was confused for I had not yet put the pizza in the oven. I ran downstairs and saw smoke coming out of the oven. It seems our painter had put a stack of pictures and negatives (the only ones from my grandmother's 90th birthday party) in the oven to get them out of his way, and had forgotten to take them out. All of them were destroyed.

Yet, earthly things are only temporary ... as much as we want them to be otherwise.

During this campaign, each of us have been encouraged to pray about our response to God's love and grace as we decide what to pledge.

I have made my pledge - I am taking money from my money market as an initial gift and making a monthly pledge that I will take from my paycheck.

But even today, as I give it more thought, I am planning to retrieve my pledge card and increase my pledge.

For as I look back upon my life, whenever I have given back to the Lord, I have been greatly blessed in return.

When we trust in God, and when we decide to let go of our earthly treasures and give first to God's work, God leads us into new and exciting adventures filled with the spiritual treasures that are vital for eternity.

With faith we travel into God's plan for our future.

Look at Abraham and Sarah. They had no clue where they were going, but they left all behind and trusted God to lead them - and God did!

With faith we too move forward — relinquishing our hold on earthly possessions and clinging instead to the heavenly treasure — keeping Christ first and foremost in our hearts, minds, words and deeds.

Let us open our heavenly treasure chest and find regular worship experiences, Bible studies, singing, praying and praising God. Let these be your important treasure.

 © Copyright 1996, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
This essay first appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of Faith in Action. Articles in Faith in Action may be reproduced for use in ELCA and ELCIC congregations provided each copy carries the note:
© Copyright 1996, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Reprinted with permission.

The Rev. Kristi Beebe is still pastor at Nativity Lutheran in Commerce City, Colo.