The Presbyterian Pulpit
A sermon by the Rev. Dr. David E. Leininger


Delivered 5/7/06
Text: Luke 12:22-34
To read endnotes, click on the the note number, then click on the to return to your place in the text.

"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Hmm.

About ten years ago, Public Television began an intriguing hour with the entrance of a patient into a doctor's office. She whined, "I feel so awful, so bloated," and the doctor told her, "I'm afraid you're suffering from...TA-DA...AFFLUENZA," (which happened to be the title of this special).(1) Then we cut to a "real doctor" (which is exactly how he was identified on-screen), who insisted that Affluenza is a "major disease, no question about it," and he was followed by a "real psychologist" who informed us, "Many people suffer from it, but few are aware they are suffering from it."

Americans are spending more, but enjoying it less, and there is a consensus out there that, as a society, we are too greedy, too materialistic. Indeed, there is an even greater consensus that the children we are raising have been taught so well that they are even worse than us old folks. We have spoiled them, haven't we?

By the way, that word "spoiled." When we use it in reference to our kids, we think of it as having been too nice, too easy, giving then whatever their blessed little hearts desire. But in every other context, when we say something is "spoiled," we means it is no more good, it is ruined. Oops. What is it really that we have done? We have not done them any favor, that's for sure.

You who are old enough no doubt remember that classic Jack Benny skit that has a robber approaching the tightwad comedian and demanding at gunpoint, "Your money or your life." After a frozen pause, the mugger says, "Well?"

Benny responds, "I'm thinking, I'm thinking." We know. We know.

"Then Jesus said to his disciples: 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.'" Then there are the illustrations about the ravens and the lilies, and the question about how much you can add to the length of your life by worrying about it. Sounds like Bobby McFerrin's song,

In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy...

Ain't got no place to lay your head,
Someone came and took your bed,
Don't worry, be happy...

The landlord say your rent is late,
He may have to litigate,
Don't worry, be happy...

Ain't got no cash, ain't got no style,
ain't got no gal to make you smile,
Don't worry, be happy...

Cause when you worry your face will frown,
and that will bring everybody down.
Don't worry, be happy...(2)

Is that what Jesus is saying? "Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well." If we remember the context of these words - immediately following the story of the untimely death of the rich man who had just torn down his barns to build bigger ones to hold all his stuff - the message is that your concern need not be on STUFF. Jesus' reference to the "kingdom" is not so much to a place, but rather a mindset, the same one we say we want when we pray, "thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." In other words, if your priorities are the same as God's priorities, you will not be overly concerned about "stuff." If you want to strive for something, Jesus says, strive for kingdom things: feed the hungry, care for the poor, house the homeless, befriend the lonely, point people towards a God who loves them and cares for them. Anyway, remember, if you win the rat race, you are still a rat.

An American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large Yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while.

The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs. The American then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time?

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, señor."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat, with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But señor, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15-20 years."

"But what then, señor?"

The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."

"Millions, señor? Then what?"

The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos." Uh-huh.

Said the Robin to the Sparrow,
"I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and hurry so."
Said the Sparrow to the Robin,
"Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me."(3)

In a moment, we come to the Lord's Table, the table of the one who knows our needs and has promised to provide, the table of the one who reminds, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." As you come, ask yourself where IS my treasure? Where is my heart's home?


1. A production of KCTS-TV and Oregon Public Broadcasting, John de Graaf, Producer, first broadcast nationally on PBS on 9/15/97

2. Music & Lyrics by Bobby McFerrin, 1988

3. Elizabeth Cheney

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