This sermon was given by our Reader Christine on 11 August 2019. You can read it again here:
“Do not be afraid, little flock for it’s your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Words of reassurance, of tenderness and love, God’s love for us, which we should treasure. God is giving us his kingdom as Jesus continues his journey to Jerusalem and he is trying to reassure everyone that events to follow are part of God’s plan, but in return, we must be good stewards.
In Luke’s Gospel today there are three short stories, which may seem at first unconnected, but they are not.
The beginning is Luke setting the scene letting us know God’s feelings for humanity. “Here is my son to teach you all you need to know about how to be good stewards of my creation.”
Jesus then says words that we have heard before, “Sell your possessions and give alms.” Remember the rich young man in Matthew (19: 11-21) who wanted to follow Jesus, but how hard it was for him to sell all his possessions because he had many.
I’m sure there are many of us, I included, that would possibly find it difficult to sell all our possessions, but I think there is more to this than just possessions. It’s also about greed and being anxious about materialism.
I know there are some possessions I have that I should really let go of, because they would mean nothing to anyone else. These are the sort of things we could let go of, but we are not expected to give up all of our possessions, as we need some of them in order to live. However, it’s not just about materialist possessions it’s about our responsibility over one corner or another of God’s creation. It’s about how we use the resources God has given to us. There is a lot now all over social media, the TV and even adverts reminding us how to recycle, to grow our own fruit and vegetables and to think not just about our own backyard, but the world.
On Social Media last year there was a story about a young man (forgive me if I pronounce his name incorrectly). It began with Malhar Kalambe, of Mumbai. He had been on holiday in Bali and the pristine clean beach there had left him in awe. When he returned home and looked at the state of the beach where he lived covered in rubbish with barely a glimpse of the sand, he complained to his mother who said, “don’t complain, if you care, just go and clean” from this ‘Beach Please” began. So, at weekends instead of hanging out with his friends, they joined him on a different mission – cleaning the Dadar beach. This began in 2017, but it didn’t just involve Malhar and his friends it turned into a community project that involved 20,000 people. That beach now clear of all rubbish, which the community continue to monitor and to which visitors are returning to enjoy the beauty of Dadar. Malhar saw the treasure of God’s creation beneath the rubbish of humankind and became an example of a good steward.
Treasure to God is not our valuables that we keep close, but our love for him and his kingdom. Everything else we should hold loosely. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” God’s love for us and ours for him.
Thinking of possessions, I can’t help but think of the people of Whaley Bridge who were given just 15 minutes to get as many essential items as they could before they left their homes again. It makes me think about material goods and what’s most important, but the people of Whaley also reflect the generosity of humankind by the enormous efforts of volunteers who helped in any way they could. They were definitely a community working together to prevent a disaster, but also being stewards of God’s creation.
Paul’s letter to the Hebrews also reminds us of Abraham who left everything behind and through his faith led a community. “Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.” Abraham’s journey wasn’t easy and he relied on God to provide for the people he was leading. He learnt during that journey what treasures to hold in his heart. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Treasures a thief cannot steal, nor moth destroys. The works and words of God sealed in his heart, in our hearts, “an unfailing treasure in heaven.” Abraham knew that God would give him and the people what they needed to survive, but that doesn’t mean he will give us what we want, because what we want is not always what we really need.
Jesus then speaks about his return in the parable of the slaves waiting for their master’s return. He is reminding the disciples of the need for readiness of being prepared for his return, but how do we prepare ourselves? Not just by prayer, but by service and action.
God has provided for us, he provides for our needs, our daily lives and for all living creatures. He treasures us, as we need to treasure his love and his creation by being good stewards. We all have gifts and it is how we use those gifts for God’s creation that will become our treasures in heaven.
It only takes one person to begin something simple, like Malhar and his Beach clean. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
For the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
Let us pray:
Holy God, make us aware of your coming to us, make us sensitive to your presence and alert to your call, that we may know that we dwell in you and you in us, and that we may give ourselves to you in love and service; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Reader @ St. Margaret’s & St. George’s Prestwich.