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True Treasure

August 7, 2022 Speaker: Rev. Jack Meehan Series: Lectionary

Topic: Biblical Verse: Luke 12:22–34

The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Luke 12:22-34

August 7, 2022

 “True Treasure”

Today’s Gospel lesson picks up where we left off last Sunday (Luke 12:13-21). Last Sunday, we heard Jesus telling the parable of the rich fool, and from this the question we asked ourselves is, how much is enough? Now today, Jesus calls us to consider a sermon in nature, so appropriate to this summertime. Look at the ravens that hang out all around us. They really don’t know where their next meal is coming from, but they do okay. God takes care of them. And take in the beautiful wildflowers that seem to pop up everywhere if given a chance. Though they appear fragile and their beauty is fleeting, not even King Solomon could compare with these. God also takes care of them. Through these, we are reminded that we often worry for nothing. God provides for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. Won’t he also provide for his own dear children, created in his own image and redeemed through the blood of his own Son? And so Jesus calls us back to trust that our heavenly Father will provide for us. Over against our anxious worry that can be so consuming, Jesus calls us to true and lasting treasure, “where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:33b-34). The sermon for today rises up out of Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel lesson and is entitled, “True Treasure.” May the Lord’s rich and abundant blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word for Jesus’ sake.

Who doesn’t do a little bit of fantasizing about striking it rich? We all do, of course. It’s hard to miss the news surrounding the yet unclaimed Mega Millions jackpot that’s now worth over $1 billion. As we know all too well, people who do win the lottery often find that their lives suddenly become a lot more complicated with all that money. Managing all that treasure can actually make life harder, not easier. Now you may be thinking, “I’d sure like to find that out for myself!” But be careful what you wish for! The truth is, whether we have a lot or a little, great wealth or small holdings, it’s hard to escape the anxious worry that goes along with life in this world. We worry about so many things, but the reality is that much of what we worry about are things over which we have no control. How many sleepless nights and unproductive days have we had because we are worried? Unable to sleep by night or focus by day, our mind keeps spinning and spinning, turning into a vicious cycle. Jesus cuts to the chase: “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Luke 12:25). Anxious worry certainly does not add to life, but it does indeed take away from it. Left unchecked, that anxious worry can cut life short. Jesus invites us to something better.

Anxiety-related disorders are the most common form of mental illness today (Facts & Statistics | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA). This is not your run-of-the-mill general worry that everyone experiences, but something far more insidious that includes things like Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Disorder, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as other soul-shattering maladies that rob people of wholeness and joy. In these settings, it doesn’t work to tell someone, “Stop worrying.” Genetics, brain chemistry and other factors make not worrying impossible. It’s not just adults who grapple with these things, either. The sad reality is that more and more children are experiencing anxiety-related disorders at ever younger ages. But there is help through skilled clinicians, care givers, support teams, and therapies. These become lifelines of hope, and where there is healing and hope, there is God.

We live in a world where it can be pretty hard not to be anxious. There are so many pressing needs and concerns everywhere we look: on the individual, family, community, national, and global levels. It can be easy to become discouraged and morose. But we worship and serve a God with whom nothing is impossible. As we heard in today’s Old Testament lesson (Genesis 15:1-6), God promised and made good on giving to childless Abraham and Sarah a son of their own, and all of this when they were both well beyond the age of having children, as we heard: “’Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. So shall your offspring be’” (Genesis 15:5). We are not told that Abraham questioned, doubted, or mistrusted what God had said. Just the opposite, in fact: “And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). And so we also by faith believe in the Lord and his promises to us. We believe that the Lord will provide for us and that he will give us strength for each day. We believe that he will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5; Joshua 1:5). We believe that even when we are weak and frail, he is strong and will uphold us by his power. We believe that the Lord’s love triumphs over everything. We hold fast to the truth that our value and worth do not lie in external things like food, clothing, or material possessions. Our true treasure is that we are loved by a Savior who entered into our world overrun by worry and anxiety. He became one of us, knowing all our fears and uncertainties, but was fully obedient to his Father’s will and purpose. He offered his very life on the cross to redeem us from our ultimate fear and anxiety, which is death. In the death of Jesus, death itself has died, so that now for the child of God, death becomes the gateway to eternal life with Jesus.

Jesus, who loves us and laid down his life for us, now invites us to give our worries and anxieties to him: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus invites us to let him do the heavy lifting in our lives. He invites us to step into the yolk that he is bearing for us. The One who carried the cross is now carrying us. That is true and lasting treasure that never grows old or wears out; it is new every day. Amen.

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