WORD FROM THE PASTOR: Investing Yourself
Many fans of “American Idol” were shocked a number of weeks ago when Constantine Maroulis was sent home fairly early in the competition. A New York lad, Constantine seemed to be bursting with talent–a fine voice, a compelling stage presence, a winsome personality. Many devotees of the show assumed that Constantine would finish in the final three, perhaps even win the competition. So it was a bitter pill when he was sent packing. I myself was shocked and disappointed.
But then I realized: I hadn’t voted. I liked Constantine a lot–and simply assumed that enough other people liked him, and that they would vote and keep him in the competition. So I sat out the vote that night...
...and bye-bye Constantine. I liked him, but I didn’t bother to invest myself in keeping him on the show.
Niederstein’s Restaurant in Queens closed a few months ago. It was a legendary place–a German restaurant set right in the Lutheran Cemetery, the site of countless bereavement luncheons. It was a place I always wanted to visit. But I never made going to Niederstein’s a priority-because I figured: It will always be there, and I can visit it at my leisure. I didn’t invest myself in Niederstein’s either. I assumed lots of other people would go there and keep it open with their business.
And now it’s gone, and I’ll never have the pleasure of eating there.
Am I responsible for Constantine being off “American Idol”? Am I responsible for Niederstein’s closure? After all, I’m just one individual–what kind of difference can I make? But when a whole bunch of individuals fail to invest themselves in something, it does make a major difference.
It is so easy to take the things we value for granted. It is so easy to assume they will always be there, so easy to assume that we don’t need really to invest ourselves, to extend ourselves, to commit ourselves.
Unfortunately, the things we don’t invest ourselves in tend to vanish on us.
That’s why it’s imperative for us to give our attention and energy to the things we value. Like relationships! We all have dear, wonderful people in our lives–people who are connected to us by bonds of blood and love. Those relationships are well worth the investment of our time, our energy, ourselves. We jeopardize them when we take them for granted.
We value our church, too. It’s the place where we hear the Word of God; it’s the place where we are welcomed into God’s Kingdom through Holy Baptism, the place where we stand before God’s altar and commit ourselves to Him in confirmation; the place where Christ feeds us with His very self in Holy Communion. It is well worth the investment of our time and our attention. The last thing we want to do is take it for granted!
Our Lord Jesus Christ once said: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21). When we value something, we want to give it our love and our attention; we want to nurture it, give it our best. This is true of relationships...jobs...churches. When we care for something, it’s important to invest ourselves in it.
Jesus Christ values us. And He invested Himself in it. How He invested Himself in us! He saw that He was about to lose us forever–we had fallen into sin. So He invested Himself by coming down from heaven–being born in our human flesh. And His self-investment became even deeper when He died on the cross for you and me. Jesus had an impassioned commitment to us. He was not going to let us slip away! “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Christ treasures us–and He opened His heart to us, He gave us His very self, so that we can live with Him forever.
Christ’s love prompts me to invest myself–to invest myself in my family, my work, my church. These are things I love. These are things I never want to evaporate! Things like these are our treasures–let us give them our hearts. Let us invest ourselves.
God loves you and so do I!