Touching Presence and Unfathomable Grandeur.

Gospel Luke 12.32-40

We continue to read the Gospel according to Luke this August. Last Sunday we reflected on the possessions of our lives; all our stuff and how we need to focus on treasures instead of our consuming, collecting, hoarding and accumulate stuff.

We continue this path with the Gospel this morning. Decluttering, cleaning and adjusting. “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 treasurer is, there your heart will be also.

Like I quoted Peter Marty (The Christian Century) last Sunday, I will quote him again: “Moth and rust go after possessions; they can’t touch treasures. I possess my house; I treasure my home. I possess food in the fridge; I treasure nourishment. I possess a cell phone; I treasure connecting with people. I possess a car; I treasure the freedom it offers. I possess a heart; I treasure love.”

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. For where your treasure is, there your faith will be also. For where your treasure is, there your hope will be also.

Where is our faith and hope ?

Is it when we look up to the blue skies, to the starry skies, to the universe displayed with Milky Ways, Stars, Black Holes and dust?  Is it when we in awesome wonder look at the grandeur of majestic mountains, beautiful beaches, deserted desserts, or blooming botanical gardens? Is our faith and hope souring like a bird, reaching for the skies, the hopes and the eternity?

Or is our faith and hope also to be found right here and now? In our relations, in our forgiveness, in our conversations, in our embraces, in our sacraments and worship, in our actions and our dreams?

For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The Gospel today urges us to store and protect our treasures in our hearts and in our faith, beyond this earthly life where moth, greed, thieves, envy or evil can destroy them. But at the same time, the Gospel also urges us with the same urgency to be alert, to be awake, to be ready, to have our lamps lit, to be present in the moment, in your daily life, in your calling – and be ready to act when needed.

So, our faith and hope, is to be reflected in our spiritual life of reflections, worship, thoughts and prayers, but also in our practical ordinary life of actions, readiness, service, commitment and care.

I read such a beautiful reflection on the Old testament reading about Abraham and all the stars of his faith, - and I must share it with you.  It was written by Kathrine Evensen, pastor at Mercy Lutheran Church in Minneapolis and professor at Lutheran Seminary in St. Paul. She had written a wonderful beautiful reflection on Genesis 15:

“It turns out that the center of the Milky Way may smell like rum and taste a bit like raspberries. Ethyl formate, one of the molecules that gives raspberries their flavor and rum its smell, has been found in space! In a way this is hardly remarkable. After all, its no surprise that we are made of the same stuff as the stars. And yet there’s poignancy to this new piece of knowledge, poignancy in knowing that the beauty of the galaxies is as intimate, near, and sublime as eating raspberries on a clear summer night.

This weeks Genesis text also speaks of a touching presence and an unfathomable grandeur. After the fiasco in the garden, God was present but often in some mediated form or another: in burning bushes, in angel visitations, in the voice of prophets or, in Abrahams case, a vision. Even without setting his eyes on the face of God, Abraham had every reason to be afraid. He was worried because he and his spouse, Sara, had remained childless and now Sara, stuck in time as we all are, was getting on in years. But God dragged Abraham outside, pointed to the sky, and made a promise: “Look toward heaven and count the starts, if you are able to count them. So shall your descendants be.”

And then Kathrine Evensen writes: “Abraham was looking at the Milky Way, and you can bet dollars to donuts that the light sent by those stars has not reached earth to find us in this 21st century. What happened between God and Abraham on that night centuries ago is a mere moment in time for the stars. For us their light is a promise of things to come…”


Beautiful isn’t it? Does the Milky Way as distant as it may be, taste and smell like sweet ripe raspberries and the sugary distilled rum? Do the stars of the universe tell us about a time and an eternity that is connected beyond our understanding? Do the stars light years away, promise us of things to come?

God works in mysteries way; through distant Milky Ways and twinkling stars, through the sweet taste of raspberries and the relaxed smell of sugary rum. God is present as it was so eloquently written “as a touching presence and an unfathomable grandeur. “

That is how faith is. A touching presence and an unimaginable grandeur. This is what we sing about in the beloved Hymn “How great thou art” and this is what Abraham experienced that night under the stars and later when he held his son in his arm. A touch of presence and a grandeur that no words can express.


God want to draw us near. Our God who created light with a single command at the beginning of the beginnings, is also the God who will not let us go. So, after whispering all things into being, to create everything from raspberries to stars, to shape time and hope, God also chose to draw us close and finally step into our time, our lives, our sins and our finalities.

There is a connection between the incarnation of Christ and the promise to Abraham. Something heartbreaking, true and hopeful.

On one hand there is old Abraham, who wonders is God will ever fulfill a promise against all odds. On the other hans there is God, who is fulfilling that promise even if people never fully trusted that promise or fully kept their eyes on the stars and the promise.

In the story about Jesus Christ, in our Gospel, we believe that God did not want to remain in the heavens, distant in his unfathomable grandeur. God wanted to draw us close, God wants never to leave us alone. Through-out all of the stories of Old Testament and through all the Gospel, there is a story about Gods faithfulness and our human doubt, Gods unfathomable love for his creation and his humans, and our inability to let go of ourselves and our possession to live in trust and faith and hope; throughout the biblical stories we are told the story about an unwavering resistant magnificent love that even becomes flesh and bone, heart and aches, with a promise that nothing in the whole universe can ever separate us from who God is.

This promise, this faith and this hope, makes the distant Milky Way and the twinkling stars, the beauty and grandeur of all the galaxies and the earth, - so intimate, so near as if we were eating and tasting sweet raspberries or enjoying a glass of rum.

After all, it’s no surprise that we are made of the same stuff as the stars. And yet there’s poignancy to this new piece of knowledge, poignancy in knowing that the beauty of the galaxies is as intimate, near, and sublime as eating raspberries on a clear summer night.