Sermon for 7 August 2016: Discovering Our Hearts…and God’s

Text: Luke 12:32-40

 Like a lot of kids growing up, I liked playing baseball. In fact, while a lot of folks who know me well think that wrestling has always been my favorite sport, I have to admit that baseball was my first love. I loved the strategy that went into it, and I especially liked it when I could be most active, where I could make the most plays and be the most involved.  

 And that meant that I was naturally drawn to playing catcher. I was actually pretty good at catcher – I picked up all the strategy and signals, I didn’t have a problem blocking balls in the dirt, and I wasn’t afraid of being hit by foul balls and occasional accidental swings from batters. Even in the hot summer sun, I loved donning the heavy catcher’s equipment because I was involved in every play and every pitch. All I ever wanted to do was be a baseball catcher, and my heart was dead set on that and nothing else.

 Only one little problem with that: I’m left-handed. For those of you who don’t know the game well left-handed catchers are a rarity, and don’t exist at the highest levels of baseball. The problem is that your throwing arm is on the same side as most of the hitters – who are right-handed – and because of that, they interfere with your ability to be an effective catcher.  That split second of delay is he difference between getting and out or someone being safe. 

The day inevitably came: I was told I could no longer be a catcher. I convinced my coaches, despite their better judgment, to let me try, and of course, at the higher levels I struggled because of being left-handed. I couldn’t throw any base stealers out and I just wasn’t very effective any more. I was mad, frustrated, and frankly heart-broken that I had spent all my time and energy into being a catcher just to fall short, and to really, lose my heart for the game. 

 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” But so often, I think we get Jesus’ words flipped around and instead we believe: for where our hearts is, there your treasure will be also. I don’t necessarily think that’s wrong, but I wonder where such a life leads us. We pour everything we have and are into the expectations and desires of our hearts, thinking that we’ll find our true treasure. But what happens when our desires and expectations go unmet? What do we miss out on by investing so much into making our expectations and desires a reality? Perhaps we’re left with broken hearts. But more than that, such life out of our expectations and desires shuts us out from the mystery and wonder of God’s Holy Spirit at work, changing, transforming, healing us. Such a life…..is not a life of faith.

 From Death to Life is an organization founded by Mary Johnson in 2005. 12 years prior, a man, Oshea Israel, murdered her son. Oshea was arrested, and convicted of murder and was thrown in jail. Mary, holding a lot of hate and hurt in her heart, decided to take a major leap of faith: she decided to forgive her son’s murderer. That forgiveness didn’t happen overnight; 9 months after her son was killed, Mary sought out Oshea in prison, and at first, he refused to see her. However, over time, he gave in, and they met. A relationship began, and forgiveness was given and received….forgiveness that both Mary and Oshea has said repeatedly, literally saved their lives. They had chosen to invest much into the task for forgiveness, not knowing where it might lead. It wasn’t easy all the time. But in dedicating themselves to the task of forgiveness, Mary and Oshea rediscovered joy could exist again in their lives and that joy could exist in a relationship started in death. Mary and Oshea discovered their own hearts, and they found their hearts in each other.

Something for you to think about this morning: I think when Jesus spoke that verse, I don’t think he was giving us a command as he was giving as an assurance about who God is. “For where God’s treasure is, there will be God’s heart also.” In Jesus, God’s only treasured son who put on flesh and whose life was given for us, we discover the very heart of God, a heart that’s solely pointed towards us. God’s heart resides with and for us, because Christ is with and for us. Such an act, it can be reckoned to us as faith: God’s faithfulness to us.

 I wonder these days, with all the violence and division in our lives today if it feels like we’ve lost our hearts. In our longing we try to fashion something that might get it back for us…..but then things fall short of those expectations. When we invest all that we are and all that we treasure into such things as forgiveness, reconciliation, grace, service…..it doesn’t guarantee an outcome like Mary and Oshea’s and it does’t guarantee our desires and expectations will ever be met. In fact, we may never fully see the fruits of our labor, our efforts. But perhaps investing in that life – that is a life of faith, a life lived in hope of what’s unseen. Perhaps investing our treasures in that life of faith – we rediscover our hearts and together, we discover that we’re at the the very center of the heart of a God who has not left us. Amen. 

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