You all are a bunch of tools! — Sermon for Feb. 1st, 2015, Matthew 6:7-21

Now that I got your attention.

January.I’m glad that’s over. It’s not just the cold and obviously the winter snow that’s done. You see, someone a “friend” joined me to this fb group “The month of a 100 things.” And this is like the complete opposite of a Fruit of the Month Club. This is a challenge that began several years ago, by a man named Mark Bruno, and it’s all about pairing life down to essentials, to live with 100 things. Several years later it’s morphed changed into this fb challenge for January to get rid of 100 things, stuff, clutter and then share publicly on FB, how its going. I wonder if my “friend” thinks I’m some kind of hoarder, who is she to join me to this group. I will be so glad to be rid of these daily posts of people getting rid of kitchen stuff, books, gobs and gobs of clothing.

You know, though, I really can’t imagine that Jesus’ audience–when he told those people gathered to hear his teaching were a bunch of hoarders needing an intervention. When Jesus is talking about storing up treasures on earth. I don’t think he is dealing with our culture of consumption. Much like in the developing countries, the people he’s talking with people who don’t have closets of shirts and dresser draws of sweaters. They may have two or lucky three different pieces of clothing. One to wear for a bunch of days, and then another to wear, while the first is getting washed and dried.

But even when you don’t have gobs and gobs of stuff. Our problem can still be our materialism. Oh not the type we’re used to where some people get so connected to their stuff, so focused on getting stuff. The materialism that Jesus is dealing with is not this (clothes, jewelry), but this (skin, head and heart).

Obviously, a lot harder to rid ourselves. We can’t (just throw this away). And just a word here, there are people who are treated like they are disposable, and hear me out that is wrong. No body, no one is disposable.
In one sense, I think we are like the people who first heard Jesus’ words. Most of us, at least I think, aren’t subject to the typical symptoms of greed. Many of us are not loaded with treasures of gold, big bank accounts, and portfolios. I don’t know too many of us who if we got a million dollars would be hurt and upset that we didn’t get 2 million dollars.

I know I give a lot of illustrations about the good stuff that happens in our ministries, but it’s not always kingdom of God and chock full of blessings. As many of you know, we have our free clothing ministry. This is really needed with people who may have to move often, don’t have the money or the car, to move their stuff. Without the ability to transport their clothes and other stuff, it gets left and they have to start over. Or lots of people don’t have washers and dryers in their homes or apartments, and then also don’t have the coin or enough cash to wash their clothes regularly. So, what we do here is important.
It’s so important to some, in warm and cold will line up for literally hours before we open the doors. And, they will vocally guard their place in line, from the occasional person who wants to skip ahead. Some will even try to “work” the system to somehow jump ahead so they can get into the new clothes closet, if not first–pretty darn close. You don’t have to be rich to be focused on yourself.

So this is hard. Somehow we are to balance somewhere between abusive self-lessness and self-obsession. We value; each and everyone of us; and each and everyone out there. We are valuable.

Perhaps, going back to the children’s sermon, it’s the difference between tools and treasures. If you’ve ever seen or known a good cook, a carpenter, a hairstylist, barber, even someone who uses their computer. You will see someone who has tools and usually keeps them up, takes good care of them. Because good tools build great treasures.
I think that’s why Jesus did what he did. He ate with sinners, taught the people who came out to him, healed the sick, fed the hungry, offered forgiveness.

We, following his lead have built all these churches, hopefully we’ve remembered that these buildings are not the point of faith. These are not our treasures. These, this one too, is not a treasure. It’s a tool.

We ourselves well–folks I don’t hate to say it but we’re a bunch of tools. The good news for us today, is that we don’t have to focus on ourselves, our wants, our likes our dislikes. Following Jesus, being the church is not about what makes us comfortable. Following Jesus isn’t even about putting the church first. It’s about the kingdom, not our Kingdom, but our Father’s. The kingdom of God, or as Matthew because he’s such a good Jewish Christian, says the kingdom of heaven, which by the way isn’t about some other place way up in the skies. Jesus preached and proclaimed, the kingdom of heaven is near. It’s here.

As we move out of this room and downstairs, to lunch and meeting. I hope, pray, plead that these words of Jesus not stay here. But lead us downstairs, lead us in our conversations (not just today, but onward). Where is treasure? Are you focused on you? Is your heart focused on others? Is our heart, is our budget, is our building, our ministries focused on us or on God’s kingdom.

Share with you a story about the kingdom of heaven. I heard this from one of our members. One day, as she was driving a bit east of here, she saw a gentleman on the sidewalk and she recognized him. He had been with us for a couple of times at Community Night. Traffic stopped, and there she was looking at him, she saw the grocery bags sitting on her passenger seat. The traffic started moving ahead of her and she drove on, about a block or two later she made a right turn, and then another right, and then another right. Circling back she returned to where the man was. She pulled over, spoke with him, reminded him that she had met him here at St. Paul’s, and then she gave him her groceries. She drove home with a bag of apples, and a few other things she was pretty sure that a man with a lifetime of no dental care couldn’t eat. It wasn’t convenient; her groceries would not miraculously reappear (in her busy schedule, she’d have to go back) it wasn’t comfortable stopping what she was doing, talking to some guy on the street–. BUT it was giving daily bread; it was the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. She will get no trophy, title, or treasure, but her heart was in the right place, with Jesus. Amen.

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