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19 “Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. 20 Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. 21 Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. Therefore, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how terrible that darkness will be! 24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
13 Someone from the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus said to him, “Man, who appointed me as judge or referee between you and your brother?”
15 Then Jesus said to them, “Watch out! Guard yourself against all kinds of greed. After all, one’s life isn’t determined by one’s possessions, even when someone is very wealthy.” 16 Then he told them a parable: “A certain rich man’s land produced a bountiful crop. 17 He said to himself, What will I do? I have no place to store my harvest! 18 Then he thought, Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. That’s where I’ll store all my grain and goods. 19 I’ll say to myself, You have stored up plenty of goods, enough for several years. Take it easy! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself. 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool, tonight you will die. Now who will get the things you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 This is the way it will be for those who hoard things for themselves and aren’t rich toward God.”
We have to choose what we value most even in hobbies (e.g. if a band you love has a concert on the same night your favorite team has a big game, which do you go to?). Jesus focused on the biggest choice all of us have to make in life. What is our ultimate, governing loyalty? Jesus taught that “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” and added, “You cannot serve God and wealth.” With a pointed parable in Luke 12, he said, “One’s life isn’t determined by one’s possessions.”
Lord Jesus, you are Lord of my life, and I want to “collect treasures” in heaven. As I make concrete, everyday choices of how to spend my time, energy and money, increase my capacity to live out your values. Amen.
The older I get the less material items seem to matter–most of them, anyway. Maybe this is because I’ve accumulated boxes and bins of stuff I may or may not ever use. More likely, though, is that my priorities have changed and I am much more in tune with exactly where my heart is these days.
Younger me loved a deal and would hold on to just about anything I thought might look cute for that one niche special outing I was sure would happen any day now. 2023 me walks right on by the sale rack and does a little happy dance every time I fill a bag of donations to pass along to someone who can actually put them to use.
You can tell where my heart is, though, by the things I continue to hold on to. My kids have long rolled their eyes at my sentimental saving of as many clay creatures, paper mâché creations and school art projects as I could get my hands on. I even had a child that was recycling art items before I ever had a chance to see them, as observed in the recycle bin of the 3rd grade classroom while I was there for conferences one evening. A self-proclaimed non-artist, this child knew that the beauty of the item had nothing to do with aesthetic value for me and I wouldn’t let it go. They were right.
When we put up the Christmas tree, the best of all those creations come out of storage. I have a tattered wrapping paper covered box with five-year-old handwriting and a distressed ribbon that says, “love is in here.” Plaster of Paris handprints and pony bead reindeer are by far my preference over any sparkly, fancy ornament or decoration. Even better are the tiny popsicle stick picture frames with a wallet-sized elementary school picture. I just gush over all the ornaments and mementos when they come out of the box and my children (mostly) graciously put them up on the tree even if they think they had a funny haircut or shake their heads at a toothless grin that takes them way back.
The relentless “why would you keep that?” comments took a dramatic shift a few years ago as a new generation joined the family. Suddenly, seeing my grandson play with the same toys his aunts or mom played with 20 years ago completely changed their tune.
Attempting to spare myself the collective groan every time I held on to a special toy or book or stuffed animal, I began quietly stashing away the most precious of the things from my own kids’ childhood on a shelf in my closet. As my grandson has grown, these items reentering our lives have brought an abundance of joy that I am not sure any of us could have calculated. They’ve been surprised at my commitment to stashing away the important little things and might even have developed a new level of respect for holding on to a thing or two.
Watching my grandson eat his cheerios out of a plastic circus mug his mom ate a sno cone out of at Ringling Brothers back in the early 2000’s absolutely melts this g-momma’s heart. Taking the batteries out of the Animal Crew bus he won’t stop pushing the button on because he loves to hear the song over and over makes me laugh because that’s exactly what we had to do when his aunt was two years old. Watching his mom wrap him up in the first quilt I ever made for her the minute he came home from the hospital makes all of the teasing and eyerolls I endured over the years for my sentimental hoarding worth it all. As I put him to bed tonight, I think I’ll pull out a “new” book from my closet shelf and introduce him to a series of characters my children can quote to this day, but he has not met yet.
In the end, the stuff is still just the stuff. Its value lies in the memories it evokes and the love it represents. That’s the real heart stuff.
* Craig S. Keener, comment on Matthew 6:24 in The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.