There are many immigrant stories of people who leave everything behind to come to America for a better life. Our ancestors risked losing everything for something better. Christ says, “Seek first the kingdom of heaven.” We must be willing to risk everything to reach heaven. Heaven is only destination worthy of risking everything because it isn’t just a better life, it is the best life.
Sponsor a Transcript of this or other sermons
My brothers and sisters, there’s a very important lesson to be learned in this morning’s gospel. I want to share a story with you. I shared one story about my grandfather in Greek, but I’m going to share a different story in English.
There was a family that came over from Greece a little over 50 years ago. A mother, a father, and two children, all with one suitcase. They arrived in New York. They were being sponsored by the American Red Cross in those days. And they were supposed to go to a family in Indiana somewhere.
Well, they didn’t get there. They got to New York. They found a taxi cab that was supposed to take them to the bus station or something like that. The cabbie put all of their bags in the back of the cab, and guess what he did? And here was this young immigrant family from Greece left with absolutely nothing. He had taken their suitcases. He had taken her purse. He had taken everything and all they had was the clothes on their back a little over 50 years ago.
And I became friends with this family, and they’ve told me their story many times. They refused to give up. They had come from Greece to America in those days for a better life. They had absolutely nothing to look forward to in Greece, but they knew there was a better life here for them, waiting in America. And let me tell you, they made a name for themselves through hard work and faith. They knew that God was going to protect them in this journey to this new world because they had faith that what they were doing was honoring God. Today, they have not just the clothes on their back, but they have extra to share with other people. And they have lived glorious and generous lives here in America. But their first day here was a true act of faith.
And I share that story not because there’s something spectacular about coming to America. There are many stories, and many of you came from Greece with maybe a few dollars in your pocket, whatever you could carry, that’s not the point of this morning’s sermon. It’s not about America. It’s about having the belief that where you are going is worth risking everything. When our ancestors, and again, I know some of you left Greece, you left for someplace better. You left everything behind and you risked everything, including your life.
The story, my brothers and sisters, is where are we headed today? We’re not headed in the upward mobility, as they say in America. This sermon is not about America. We are headed for heaven. And just like we had to be willing to leave everything behind and risk everything to come to America for a better life, we, my brothers and sisters, have to risk everything in order to reach heaven. We don’t get even one suitcase with us in heaven. We have just ourselves to present to God.
And so, in this morning’s gospel, Christ reminds us of these very important realities of life. He says, “Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food in the body, more than clothing.” Then he goes on, he says, “Look at the birds. They don’t build barns and yet God feeds them. Look at the lilies of the field, the beautiful flowers. No one takes a needle and thread and makes fine clothing for the flowers that are here one day and gone the next.” And so, Christ is reminding us of all of these important things. And then he says, “Therefore, do not worry saying what you shall eat, ‘What shall we drink? What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the gentiles seek, for your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”
Now, here is what we absolutely must take deep into our hearts, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. And all these things will be added to you. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will worry about its own things.”
My brothers and sisters, if we want to find ourselves in heaven, we have to seek heaven as our destination. We have to be willing to lose it all to get to a better place. And heaven, my brothers and sisters, is not just a better place. It is the greatest place. It is the place where God welcomes us, where God protects us, where God comforts us, where God wraps His arms around us. It is truly worth the journey.
So I pray that we can be inspired by our immigration stories, because our ancestors risked losing everything to come for something better. Now, it’s our turn to risk losing everything to find something better in Christ, in heaven.
Let’s stop worrying about filling our barns. Let’s stop worrying about how beautiful our clothes are. Let’s stop worrying about what tomorrow is going to be. As so many of us know, we don’t know if we have tomorrow. None of our families are immune or unknown to tragedy. So why spend energy worrying about tomorrow? As Christ says, “Who can add one qubit to your height by worrying about tomorrow?” We have today. We have today to be able to open our hearts to Christ and allow him to fill our hearts with His joy, His grace, and His mercy.
And I remember thinking of this family on the curb in New York. They never gave up and neither can we. We cannot give up our search for heaven, but it starts with leaving the old world behind in search of the new. Leaving the Earth in search for heaven, the Kingdom of God. And if we search for the kingdom, as Christ says, “God knows we need clothing. God knows we need food. God knows we need shelter over our heads. He’ll help us find those things if we first seek the kingdom of heaven. Everything else will fall into place. Glory to God for all things.
Leave a Comment