In Pursuit Of The kingdom

[]Since this is Father's Day, I deviated from the regular lectionary and instead chose scripture that mentions God as Father. In this passage from Luke's Gospel, Jesus is teaching about the kingdom of God. And I think that's a pertinent place for us to embrace God as our Father and Creator. This well-known passage (Luke 12:22-34) that ends with, 'For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,' follows Jesus' Parable of the Rich Fool who stores up treasures for himself. And later in Luke, Jesus says, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Luke 18:25). As his listeners consider their treasures and possessions, Jesus begins to teach about not pursuing the things of the world. Even concerning food, shelter, and clothing, Jesus says to not worry so much about that either…not because they are not important, but because our Father in heaven knows what we need. Jesus says, "Do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them." He also says, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom," and also those things that we need. So Jesus is reminding us that God, as a Father figure for us, helps to provide those things that we need and that we don't need to worry so much about the things of the world.

In this time of global recession, it is good to focus on what is most important in our lives and good to remember that God knows our need and wants to provide the fundamentals of food, shelter, and clothing. Even in these tough times, we should continue pursuing the kingdom and not worry about those things. It doesn't mean that you should not seek help if you are in need of assistance. The church is there for that, and there are great community organizations for that. But do not let it consume your minds. The key word in this passage, I think, is 'worry.' In the last several months as I've watched the news, I've noticed that it is full of stories that make us worry. And it's a shame that these things preoccupy our minds all the time because often it makes us forget about some of the more important things.

What are the most important things in your life? Think on that for a moment and then hear these words of Jesus: "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 treasure is, there your heart will be also." What is most treasured in our lives? What do we invest ourselves into, not just money and resources or gifts, but what do we invest our time, our energy, and our love into in our lives? That is where our treasures start. Many invest a lot of time in the ministries of Grace Church and in sharing the love of God with others. And that is another place where a treasure begins. And when those things merge, those treasures begin to grow and to multiply.

On this Father's Day, I'm reflecting on where my most valuable treasures are, and they are my family. No matter what happens to me in my life, if I have them I will feel blessed. One of my great earthly treasures is in my children and in the joy and love that I feel when they bring me some little Play-Doh things and a card with glue and glitter and stickers. Those are great treasures. They won't fetch much on eBay or on Antiques Roadshow, but they mean an awful lot to me because their love and their energy went into it. And it touches me and it changes me every day, and I'm reminded that they are a great treasure in my life.

When the scriptures speak about us being the children of God and God giving us this gift of life, that is one of our best treasures. We're given life and we're given family. We're given those who love and care for us. And when we have that foundation, we are able to give love to the world. We are able to respond and not worry about the accumulation of possessions that too often wind up in a garage sale in a couple of years. Instead, if we focus ourselves on that love that starts at home, that starts in the church, that feeds us and in turn we are able to feed that love back into the world, to those who are suffering or struggling, to those who are lonely or hurting. To be able to do that is, in itself, a great treasure.

Grace has done much of that over many years and I have seen it in just the five years I have been here. And I know we will do even more, to invest more of ourselves into this treasure that God has given us in this church, in this church family. There is great love here among us. And when new people come into the church, one of the things they often say is, "I felt warmly embraced by this church family; I was not a stranger but I immediately became one in the family." God has given us a great treasure. We need to continue to pursue that, but also to share the gift of the love that God so freely gives to us. It is a great gift.

On Father's Day, it is especially important for us to remember that gift from God. For all the fathers, grandfathers and father-figures, remember where the true treasures are in your lives. And for you graduates who are about to embark on the next step in life's journey, there are many things for you to consider and many pathways to follow, and you'll have difficult choices to make. Our prayer of blessing is that you are able to make the right ones so that you not only find happiness, but that you find peace and contentment in your heart, that you discover what God is calling you to do and that you are able to seize that opportunity and grow with it. In that, you will find great happiness and your life too will feel like a great treasure.

So on this Father's Day, let us reflect on the gift of life God has given us and focus our minds on love and thanksgiving for what we have received. We have been truly blessed, and God is the giver of that blessing.

June 21, 2009

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