Hearts and Treasures
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
(Matthew 6:21; also Luke 12:34)
One day when I was in fourth grade, I visited my Aunt Ruby. Glancing at her mail table, I saw the words, "Win these prizes!" printed in bold letters on a catalog.
"What's this?" I asked my aunt.
She told me that she sold Stanley cleaning products door-to-door. The catalog showed the prizes she could get by selling different amounts of brushes, detergent and "degreaser."
As I paged through the catalog, my eye settled on a picture of a mirror. It was oval, with white scrollwork around it, trimmed in gold. I thought, "This is so beautiful. I bet my mother would love this mirror for Mother's Day."
There were some problems I'd need to overcome, though. First, I'd have to hide what I was doing from my mother, so I wouldn't spoil the surprise. Second, I wasn't even allowed to go out in the neighborhood when my mother wasn't home.
I figured I could sneak out between 3:20 pm, when I got home from school, and 7:30 or 8:00pm, when my mother got home from work. It would be worth sneaking out, to have the world's most beautiful mirror to give to my mother as a surprise.
Aunt Ruby let me take some order forms and also cut out the picture of the mirror from her catalog.
The next day after school, I began ringing doorbells up and down the streets around my house. I showed each person who answered their door the picture of the beautiful mirror that I wanted to give my mother; then I showed them the list of products they could order.
It took many weeks, but at last I had mailed in enough sales. One day, I got home from school and saw that the postman had left a cardboard box with my name on it. I wrapped the whole box in pretty paper, hid it in my clothes closet, and waited for Mother's Day.
I've never been more eager to see someone unwrap a present, either before or since. The moment my mother held out the unwrapped mirror, though, we both gasped.
I gasped because the mirror didn't look nearly as beautiful as I thought it would. The solid wood scrollwork with delicate gold inlays turned out to be cheap plastic, painted white. All that work for an ugly mirror!
But when I looked at my mother's face, I saw that she had gasped in joy. "Where did you get the money for this mirror?" she asked me.
"I earned it selling Stanley products," I mumbled.
"You did? It's the most beautiful thing I ever saw," she said.
I looked at her eyes: they were moist with tears. She really meant it!
Twenty years later, that mirror was still hanging on the wall. An adult now, I begged my mother to take down that embarrassingly cheap mirror and get a lovely antique instead.
But no amount of begging changed her mind. That mirror was a treasure, she said. It could not be replaced. Ever.
That plastic mirror taught me something I've never forgotten: Money is just paper; its only value is the value we give to it. Therefore, what matters is not the money itself, but the good things that come from using it.
As a grown-up, to be sure, I realized that I had given my mother a piece of painted plastic. But in my heart - and in my mother's heart - I had used my love for my mother to turn my treasure into part of my heart, so I could give it to her.
When we talk about church stewardship, then, we ask you, too, to use your treasure as a part of your heart. Pledging money to God is a way to turn our money into love. When we put our treasure where our heart is, we are more connected to God - just as that simple plastic mirror become a form of love for my mother and me to share.
You see, what we do as a church with this money is bigger than what any of us can do by ourselves. Just as a cheap mirror can be transformed into something loving and life-giving, so our pledges - perhaps not always large amounts individually - can be transformed into larger acts of love and service to our loving God.
But back to my childhood: Every morning, when my mother and I left our house, we stopped in front of the plastic mirror. We looked to see if we'd correctly put on our lipstick and arranged our hair.
But much more importantly, when I looked into that mirror, I saw how much I loved my mother.
And when my mother looked in that mirror, she saw her greatest treasure: her daughter's love.
Blessings, Rev. Pam