Summary: LENT 5, YEAR C - Let us let go of those things that will perish to take hold of the One who lives for ever, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Introduction: Treasure?

A woman went browsing through an antique store. While she was there she found a piano she fell in love with. It was a magnificent old mahogany upright with beautiful carvings across the front. Inside the top was a beautiful hand detailed painting along the back along with the serial number and name of the original maker. It had been made in 1901. It had a warm full tone and she thought all it needed was to be tuned. She brought it home and called a piano restoration specialist to come to tune it. It didn’t take him long to determine that the pinblock had been "doped." He explained to the woman that old pianos "die" when the pinblock dries out and will not keep the pins tight when tuned. When this happens some sellers will make a last ditch effort to sell it: they dope it, which means they lay the piano on its back and pour a mixture of anti-freeze and water around the pins to swell the pinblock. Sometimes it will add some life to an aging piano; in this case, it ruined it. The woman was so disappointed and angry that she put the piano outside and made a sign for it that said "Free: 500 pounds of firewood". Her treasure turned to trash.

Have you ever had something like that happen to you? You find something that you love, and shortly after you get it, you know that it is destined for the trash pile. I know I have. Sometimes they are not too costly, but at other times, it is downright painful. A few years ago Rosemary and I were looking for a used car, so I went to a dealer in Bloomsburg PA. You can guess at the results, can’t you? I fell in love with a Nissan hatchback. Rosemary was unsure about it, so we brought it to our mechanic to have him check it. He told us it was a “sweet deal”. Rosemary still wasn’t sure, but I had the assurance from someone in the know, so we bought it. One month later we learned it had a cracked block, and we had to decide, do we sink another thousand dollars to fix it, or throw out the couple thousand dollars we just spent to get it? Another treasure, trashed. How many of you have corners in your garages and basements and attics were there are those so-called treasures you can’t throw away. Yard sale lawn mowers that can’t cut grass, a china set where most of the plates are cracked and chipped, clothes you swear you are going to lose weight so you can wear them again. We all do.

The pursuit of ...

We pursue many things hoping to gain a wonderful treasure in our lives. We pursue an education, a career, a mate, a family, as well as our hobbies, and toys and recreation. A nd sometimes we get caught in a dilemma, and we have to ask ourselves, “Is what I have really such a treasure?” The apostle Paul was a man who once faced this difficult question. Paul had every privilege a man of Israel could hope for in the first century. And

he pursued things he thought would be of great price, every benefit, every treasure, every good a Jew of his day valued. He was born into the most prestigious class of Israelites, he came from a family of priests, he was raised in a faithfully religious community. Paul was a man eager to gain all that was available to his people. And he had all the connections he needed to see his dream come true. Paul labored to live as a pious Jew and keeper of the law. He graduated Hebrew U. with high marks. He became a Pharisee, a priest of high

distinction. He even became a zealous defender of the Jewish faith and tradition. Then half-way through his life Paul had a hard awakening. Paul was traveling to the far corners

of the Roman world, letter in hand, to root out a crazy sect called Nazarenes. They were

a people so confused, they thought a carpenter from nowhere was the Messiah, and they

were causing such problems in Judaism that the faith was threatened. Everything a true

Jew treasured was being swept away by these so-called christians, and Paul was going to

confront that threat. But it was Paul who was suddenly confronted on the road to Damascus.

“Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice out of heaven saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you Lord?’ I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” (Acts9:3-6)

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