Sermon based on Hebrews 11:1-3, 6-19 at First UMC, Huntington on August 11, 2019.
In the Fall of 1989, I was headed back to college after a break of a couple of years. I was a new student pastor – in Kincaid, WV – and a new student at what is now West Virginia University of Technology. (It was just known as WV Tech when I was there.) I had spent the summer getting to know my two new churches, was enjoying the “newness” of ministry and really looking forward to getting back and finishing my education.
The first day of classes arrived and I found myself running late to make the trip across the mountain that separated Kincaid and Montgomery. I rushed out of the house and then back into it to get my book bag and then hurried toward my car a second time. I got in, started it up and backed up in my parking area (yes, the parsonage actually had a space where you could park four or five cars – the down side of that was that you had a steep driveway to get onto Johnson Branch Rd.) and within a second or two found myself stopping abruptly and unexpectedly as I smashed into another vehicle parked behind me.
Now, if I back up a couple of days I can explain how the vehicle got there… My neighbors across the street were have a lot of company visiting them from time to time and graciously I invited them to park in this nice parking area since there home had very limited parking. Well, obviously my neighbor took me up on the offer and her brother from Ohio paid the price. I tore the tailgate right off of his truck as I backed up in a rush that morning not even checking my rearview mirror simply because I had become so accustomed to driving there that I didn’t think I needed to pay attention.
Oh, they were gracious in accepting my apologies and were even good enough to work out a reduced price for me to pay for the damages. However, no one from that family ever parked in the area again!
Sometimes, I fear that we are so accustomed to seeing certain things around us – or not seeing them – that we fail to notice when something changes. (How many people have seen the new signs for Princeton? Has anyone noticed that the dead tree in the fountain area across from the church has been removed?)
My reason for telling all this is pretty simple: If we desire to be the church in the heart of Princeton then one of the main things we will have to do is keep our eyes open no matter how many times we are around our community. There are countless ways that we can show our love (be the heart) for this community – if we aren’t to busy getting to our destination that we fail to notice what is really happening around us.
Jesus is ready to come back to this community and we can pave the way by spending our treasures – time, talents and resources – where we see the needs. That is, as long as we aren’t so busy that we back into them and cause damage instead.
The church in the heart of Princeton! I know we love this place and we love this community. I just pray that we are ready to be Jesus as each and every opportunity arises!
Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…You must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. (Luke 12:32-34, 40 NRSV)