Let us pray: Guide these words and use them, O God. Amen.
Some time ago we had a visitor at our worship service. This visitor comes to Yellowknife every so often and during the visits she comes to worship with us. On this particular occasion, when I spoke to her after worship I mentioned the number of congregation members who are from zero to three years of age that are coming to worship with their family. This wise visitor then said, “I hope that is where you are spending your money!”
It seemed like a fitting conversation to share with you on this day when our reading is all about investment and the day on the church calendar is known as Children’s Sunday.
The gospel story that Sophie read for us this morning is a curious one. On one hand, the point is pretty clear: Don’t be cautious. Cautious investors who only protect the initial investment without taking any risk will in the end lose out – (when inflation is added to the equation).
But on the other hand, some people might be surprised that this is a parable of Jesus. For some people it might seem like a Jesus endorsement of the capitalist system, an endorsement that runs counter to some of the other things that Jesus said and did.
The problem might come when we try to interpret the story as prescriptive for the way we should live our lives, rather than a story to make a point.
After all I am sure many of us have had meetings with our financial advisors and planners and had the interview that is required by their accreditation bodies, you know the interview in which they assess our tolerance for risk.
And as I look around this congregation, I’m pretty sure that some of us have had the conversation which surrounds that little exercise, again, you know, the one that says your tolerance for risk should decrease as you approach your retirement years.
So, take risks, Jesus says, but the financial wisdom that surrounds us in this context says that if you value your heart it is best not to expose it to too much risk – because lack of sleep and the stress that comes with worrying about your financial future is not good for your heart.
Of course that’s the heart that keeps on pumping the blood through our veins and arteries. What about the heart that feels? What about the heart that encapsulates our passions, our deepest desires, our vision and hope?
Most of you have heard me describe the particular gift that Hebrew storytellers and reflectors on life have given us, the one that equates body and spirit by attaching feelings and situations to particular organs of the body. In that way of thinking, those two kinds of heart are inseparable. The heart that pumps our blood is the same heart that holds our deep desires, our loves, our passions.
Let me quote some portions of both our congregational vision statement and our congregational mission statement to you:
First of all from the vision statement: We are dedicated to being a community which welcomes and includes everybody, celebrating the diversity of our age, gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, ethnicity, and socio-economic circumstance. Celebrating the diversity of our age…
And even more explicitly from our mission statement: We value the Christian education of our children and adults.
This is not meant to be a reminder to committee chairs that your budget numbers for 2018 were due to our treasurer this week, but I wonder if the mission and vision statements were considered when you talked with your committee about the budget you are looking at for next year’s activities and programs?
That’s really the question that our visitor was asking. I hope that is where you are spending your money.
Jesus said something about investment in another place in the gospels. It reads like this: Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust can destroy, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure there your heart will be also.
I was thinking about that passage this week because it is the inspiration for a wonderful song by Linnea Good. It is called There Is Your Heart. I paraphrased it in the sermon title this morning. I want to close this morning by playing the song for you. Just so you don’t miss it, here is the final verse:
Water and air that are clean,
Space for the children to dream
Each of us cradles a vision
Of how this could be.
Shower your vision with care
Offer to God with your prayer
Your money, your talent, your time
And then the chorus:
Lay your burdens down, sing your own life’s part, and there where your treasure lies, there is your heart.