“The Scream”, a late 19th century Norwegian painting, sold recently for $123,000,000 dollars. Both the painting and the purchase illustrate one of the strangest, even bizarre, behaviors of our human species … the objectively irrational practice of investing odd, intrinsically worthless objects with extreme, shameless value while at the same moment ignoring millions of precious human lives that are wasted in want and hunger. This inexplicable transaction gives new meaning to human sin if not insanity.
Perhaps on the other end of the values spectrum, yet equally insane, is the offering of more than $100,000,000 for a five year contract to an NFL quarterback while turning a blind eye to the crumbling of this nation’s public educational structures and the failure of many of its students.
Jesus says, “where your treasure is there your heart will be …” Even a very superficial appraisal of what the human heart treasures reveals an ultimate betrayal by the creature, human, of genuine value, true beauty, authentic worth, eternal vision.
In absolute contradiction to this twisted perception of what constitutes real treasure our Lord has entrusted to His Church treasure upon treasure, both the immediate values of life and love and the eternal values of century upon century of history and heritage. As a kind of exhibit #1 I would offer the true treasure of the ancient worship of God’s people in the Psalms of the Holy Scriptures. Most of these ancient psalms are now at least 3000 years old and have been sung, chanted, spoken and played in virtually every corner and every context of human experience. They have crowned the blessings of God’s people generation upon generation and have lifted the crushed lives of millions of His fallen. These true treasures of human expression and experience are by the grace of God today ours and their value to and through Christ’s church are beyond simple calculation.
Jesus says, “where your treasure is there your heart will be …”
As a small way of both thanking our heavenly Father for securing these treasures for us and using these gifts to His glory we will engage the Psalms in our worship and employ their beauty and majesty in our Sunday morning Liturgy this Fall. Many themes could be used to describe these times of “putting our hearts where our treasure is”, but we will weave our worship together in the theme, “Trustees of A True Treasure”.
Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Lutheran pastor, professor, confessor and martyr to the Nazis in 1945, wrote in his now famous treatise on the church, “Life Together” “… the Psalms are the prayer book of Jesus; His hymnal. The psalm becomes real for us and we draw closer to our Lord when we read and pray the psalm through the eyes, the heart and the mission of Jesus”.
God willing, this Fall our worship together will provide 1. A rich resource for praying the Psalms with our Lord; 2. a deep gratitude to God and a deep appreciation to our Christian ancestors for preserving the Psalms; 3. a broadening of our Lutheran worship experience as we learn the ancient liturgical practice of chanting the psalms; 4. a growing commitment to our responsibility as Trustees of a True Treasure for the generations to come.
“… the Psalms are the prayer book of Jesus; His hymnal. The psalm becomes real for us and we draw closer to our Lord when we read and pray the psalm through the eyes, the heart and the mission of Jesus”.
The Psalmist asks in Psalm 116, “… what shall I offer to the Lord for all His blessings to me? … and he answers … I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.”
In a world that twists virtually every treasure whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual into an object of greedy and often insane personal consumption the word and worship of Christ’s church, the values of His people and the Trustees of the True Treasure may just bring a moment of sanity and the possibility of salvation to the broken heart and the lost treasure.
Trustees of a True Treasure – Service and Sermon Series
September 20 – Psalms of Promise
September 27 – Psalms of Penitence
October 4 – Psalms of Purpose
October 11 – Psalms of Pilgrimage
October 18 – Psalms of Praise
October 25 – Psalms of Peace
November 1 – Psalms of Paradise (Consecration Sunday)