October 26, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Our topic and our title for this morning is “Priceless.” Hear the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Matthew 6, starting at verse 28:
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor weave. Yet Solomon, in all his royal splendor, was not arrayed like one of these. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, oh, He will certainly care for you.”
The word of the Lord; thanks be to God. Amen.
[Pastor Tony playing the piano and singing]
The way you
wear your hat,
The way you sip your tea,
The memory of all that --
No, no! They can't take that away from me!
your smile just beams,
The way you sing off key,
The way you haunt my dreams --
No, no! They can't take that away from me!
No! They can't take that away from me!
What can’t they take away from me? Let’s talk about that this morning. I’d like to structure our sermon this morning around two commercials that I’ve seen on TV. Maybe you’ve seen them, too. Have you seen the commercial where the fellow is sitting in the sauna with his towel? A four-hundred pound gorilla comes in and sits next to him and starts talking to him about financial instruments. “What do I know?” he says. “I’m just a four-hundred pound gorilla in the middle of the room.”
What’s the four-hundred pound gorilla in our lives? Don’t you think it’s the economic situation today? It’s something we’re all bombarded with, all the time, on the news and on the radio. All this worrisome news that we hear – “the Dow is below 10,000…the Dow is below 9,000…the Dow is near 8,000” – we’re bombarded with it. Do you ever click on CNN or MSNBC? You see pictures of the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. And what do you see in the middle of the picture but a guy looking up at the monitor, his hands to his forehead, with a look of shock and disbelief, mouthing the words “Oh, no!” Of course you’ve seen those. We’re bombarded with it. It affects many of us.
The first thing I want to say is that I don’t want to minimize the importance of it. It is important. And of course we get worried about such things. That’s the gorilla. But I am not going to try to offer you an explanation for the financial situation. I was tempted—I was tempted to talk to you this morning and explain hedge funds and market futures and the credit default swap fund, but I decided not to. Aren’t you glad? I know about as much about that as I do about organized sports, so you’re safe this morning.
But I will talk with you about the Christian approach, a Biblical approach to this financial crisis and the fearful times we’re going through. Let’s think about that as Christians. What do we bring to this situation?
I want to illustrate that, my friends, with another commercial I’ve seen on television. Picture someone going shopping in a food market. The ad says, “Groceries, $100. Gasoline to get there and back and around town, $50. Utilities to cook the food, $75. Having someone to sit down and have dinner with, priceless.”
As Christians, we want to focus on that which is priceless in our lives; there are two elements that we can bring to this situation as a Christian people – perspective and faith. Perspective + faith = the priceless factor.
The first thing we can do is remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: “Consider the lilies of the field.” Consider the view out our sanctuary window. Consider the birds of the air. God blesses and provides.
The question is, what is the priceless factor for you? Do you have things in your life that are priceless? I invite you to think of three; five if you can do it! But I invite you to think of three. Write them down, but consider first that perspective means that in the face of crisis, we have priceless things to think about and to cherish in our hearts.
Let me tell you a little story about ‘priceless.’ During the First World War, there was a famous fighter pilot named Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. He had a great reputation as a military hero. Rickenbacker returned to serve his country as a civilian pilot during World War II. During one flight, he was forced to land in the ocean. He was able to eject from the plane and get onto a life raft. He floated on the ocean for 24 days. No fresh water, no shade, no food, for over three weeks.
Think about that! Charge conference was only two weeks ago; seems like a long time, doesn’t it? That’s just over half as long Eddie Rickenbacker was floating on the water. While he was adrift, he made an agreement in his heart that if he ever saw the day when he could stand on dry land and drink fresh, clean water, he would never worry about anything else again. He lived to see that day, and he was able to see that fulfilled. Water and dry land—to Eddie Rickenbacker, priceless.
I’d like to invite you to write down three, or even five, things that are priceless to you. What is priceless for you? What is it that “they can’t take away” from you?
[Pastor Tony playing the piano, “This Is My Story, This is My Song,” as people write.]
Now, please stand up and pair up with someone you didn’t come to church with and share your list.
I heard some wonderful thoughts going about the room as folks were talking. Let’s share a few. What’s on your list? What’s priceless?
~The pleasure of music.
~The beauty of the earth.
~A sense of humor.
So many priceless gifts are given to each of us. So, let’s keep these things in mind, my friends, as we confront the crises of the week and whatever is thrown at us. We as Christians have perspective and we have faith.
Won’t you take that with you, too? We have faith. What is faith? One definition I can think of is “faith is the sneaking suspicion that something might just go right.” Have faith! You’re Christians; we’re Christians together. Have faith that things just might go well. How many of us, back in the summer, even thought that gasoline might go below $4 a gallon, let alone below $3 a gallon? Have faith! Things just might go well.
The Lord said, “Consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air.” The Lord provides for them, and will He not do so much more for us? – because God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2008 Anthony J. Godlefski