Everything is Holy Now

cardboard boxes“Everything is Holy Now”
Matthew 6:19-24
Pastor Todd Buegler
October 12 & 13, 2016
Trinity Lutheran Church

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator, and from Jesus, the Son of God who gives us all we need! Amen.

You may have heard, that we elected a new president this past week. I think there were probably a couple of news stories about it. While I generally don’t talk much about politics from the pulpit, there are a couple of observations that I think might be helpful for us today.

First, I like many of you, was up late on Tuesday watching the coverage. And just one of the ways I found myself surprised, was in the depth of the data that was being processed and analyzed, seemingly on the fly. With a simple click on an electronic map, the experts could tell us: how did men vote? How did women vote? How did college grads vote? What about people without college degrees? College grads who are men? Women who make over six figures? They sliced and diced the data by region, race, income, and more. If you wanted to know what women who are left-handed, with graduate degrees and who like long walks on the beach thought? I bet they could have told you. The way they are able to drill down and categorize and compartmentalize people quickly. It was really impressive.

My second observation is how this way of separating people, of compartmentalizing continues after the elections. Let’s just be honest, we are really good at dividing ourselves up.

  • Republicans and Democrats
  • Winners and losers
  • North and south
  • Red and blue
  • Urban and rural
  • Gay and straight
  • Millennials and Gen Xers
  • Joyful and angry

We are good at dividing ourselves up. And unfortunately, those divisions can breed mistrust, and mistrust can quickly breed conflict. We’ve experienced some of that this week. Our country feels more divided than ever. And it feels like we’ve lost the ability to disagree with each other, and still live together as community.

Here’s my word of hope for us today: Let’s respect that some are joyful this week, and some are saddened, and let’s be kind. Let’s be gentle with each other. And let’s acknowledge that it is our own sinfulness that allows differences to become division, and division to become conflict. And let’s remember that God calls people of faith to something more…to a standard higher than what our culture can descend to. We know that we can do better. It’s ok to disagree…it’s healthy even. But when disagreement becomes division and conflict…that’s a problem. And as people who follow Jesus, let’s commit ourselves to leading the way in showing trust, respect and love, even when we disagree. We can do that!

Our Gospel text today is about how we separate and compartmentalize our lives. Jesus says “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Jesus is acknowledging that in our own hearts and minds, we divide things into two: There is our treasure: those things we have; our time, our money, our possessions…and there is our heart: those things that we love, or place the most value in. These things don’t always align; they are separated from each other. There is a gap. We live like there a disconnect between our heart, and our “stuff,” between our faith and our actions, between our beliefs, and our convictions.

I was in a conversation with someone once who was wrestling with their sense of who they were. They said “There’s the Sunday me…religious, faithful, kind and generous; and there’s the Monday me: Angry, disrespectful and kind of cutthroat. I’d rather there just be me.”

In our Gospel, Jesus is saying that there should be no compartmentalization… no separation…that our heart and treasure should reside together. God calls us to a life of integration. Because everything comes from God, our heart and our treasure. And everything is holy. Everything.


Lyrics:
When I was a boy, each week
On Sunday, we would go to church
And pay attention to the priest
He would read the holy word

And consecrate the holy bread
And everyone would kneel and bow
Today the only difference is
Everything is holy now

 Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

 When I was in Sunday school
We would learn about the time
Moses split the sea in two
Jesus made the water wine

 And I remember feeling sad
That miracles don’t happen still
But now I can’t keep track
Cause everything’s a miracle

 Everything, Everything
Everything’s a miracle

You see, I think we’re really good at “compartmentalizing” our lives.

  • Over here, here is where I have my work life. I open this box from 9 to 5 every day, and some evenings and weekends.
  • And over here, this is my family life. This part of my life gets evenings and weekends.
  • And here is my faith life. It goes into this box that I open on Sundays, right?
  • And here, in this compartment? Here is what I like to do. This is where I keep the books I like to read, and the old, bad science fiction shows that I like to watch.
  • And in this box, this represents my health, how I take care of my physical self.
  • And here are my friends.
  • And here is my financial life.

We are so very good at compartmentalizing our lives. It’s the way our culture works: a place for everything, and everything in its place. And the parts of our lives that we want to keep hidden, well we just tuck those compartments out of the way. Out of sight, out of mind.

There are some areas of our life where some separation feels natural, and even healthy. Our home life might need separation from our work life…or we become workaholics, and work infringes on our time with family members. But compartmentalizing our lives this way can also be problematic for us, especially for people of faith. When we compartmentalize our faith, we do two things to it: First, we separate it from everything else in our life. And second, we place it there alongside everything, as though it’s no different…no more important…that it carries no special weight.

But when we integrate our faith life into all the aspects of our lives, when we learn what it is to view our work life, our family life, our financial life, all the other parts of our lives, through the lens of faith, then we remember, that everything is a gift. Everything is a miracle…everything is holy.

Lyrics:
Wine from water is not so small
But an even better magic trick
Is that anything is here at all

 So the challenging thing becomes
Not to look for miracles
But finding where there isn’t one

 When holy water was rare at best
It barely wet my fingertips
But now I have to hold my breath
Like I’m swimming in a sea of it

 It used to be a world half there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
Cause everything is holy now

In our Gospel text for today Jesus teaches us that “where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. In other words, we’ve got our “treasures…everything that we have been given. Everything we need. Everything we want that we have; our time, our money, and our possessions.   And we have our heart: which according to Jesus is love of God, and love of neighbor.

Jesus recognizes in our Gospel that when we separate what we have, from what we love, when they’re not integrated or aligned, the quest for what we “have” can overwhelm what we love. We can lose site of the important, to focus on the new, and shiny. And when we spend time and energy pursuing things, that don’t live within our heart, we begin to take on the attitude of “I’ve earned it…it’s mine…I deserve it…” forgetting that it all is a gift. It all comes from God’s grace. We forget that all that we have is, quite simply, a miracle.

Together, we are coming to an end of our congregation’s capital campaign, and our sermon series on “A Story to Tell.” So what is our story?

Our story is that we are broken people, living in a broken world that some days (like this week) feels like it is spinning out of control. And we confess that sometimes we try and deal with that brokenness by compartmentalizing the things we have in an effort to cling to them tighter…to hold on fiercely, to protect what we have.

Our story is that Jesus reminds us to trust, and to loosen our grip. To let go of the relentless pursuit of “things,” in order to focus on the love that comes from God. If we do that, our love, our joy, our giving, and our tolerance and respect for others will grow. If you’ve heard nothing else over these six weeks of our sermon series, I hope you’ve heard that we can trust that God will provide and care…more than enough.

And our story is that if we let go of our fear, and we let go of the tight grip on what we believe we’re entitled to, and if we share joyfully with others, we’ll do two things: First, others who are in need will receive. Trusting in God and letting go will literally become a life-giving act.

And second, as we integrate our faith into all the parts of our lives, family, work, play, financial, you name it…our identity as children of God will be renewed, and we’ll recognize that every part of our lives…our whole selves…everything…because of Jesus, is holy.

Lyrics:
Read a questioning child’s face
And say it’s not a testament
That’d be very hard to say

 See another new morning come
And say it’s not a sacrament
I tell you that it can’t be done

 This morning, outside I stood
And saw a little red-winged bird
Shining like a burning bush
Singing like a scripture verse

 It made me want to bow my head
I remember when church let out
How things have changed since then
Everything is holy now

 It used to be a world half-there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
Cause everything is holy now

 With the congregation:
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

 Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

 Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

We tell the story: Because of Jesus, everything is a gift. Everything
is Holy. Thanks be to God.

Amen.

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