The Grateful Heart

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Rev. Victor and the Children act out “The Parable of the Fabulously Wealthy Woman” during this intergenerational worship experience full of music, drama and joy.

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This Week’s Sermon Was Drawn From the Following Scripture

Matthew 6:19-21

Jesus said,“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

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I invite the children to come forward for this intergenerational worship experience. Alison Faison has placed some chairs for you down here in the front, and your parents are encouraged to come, too.

Isabella read today’s scripture beautifully. Here’s another translation of Matthew 6:19-21:

“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”[1]

Today, we are going to embody the words of Jesus by acting out what Jesus was teaching us. I have called on some Calvary friends to help me perform this play, which is also today’s sermon. Although we’ve adapted it, is is originally written by theologian Thomas Troeger.[2] [3] (Thomas Troeger is a homiletical hero of mine!)

With thanks to the cast[4], we now present “The Parable of the Fabulously Wealthy Woman.”

 Dramatic lighting change.

Once upon time were was a fabulously wealthy woman. She had a vast treasure in gold coins and $50,000 bills. She would carry her treasure with her wherever she went. When she found what looked like a safe place, she would put down her treasure box and count every last coin and every last bill with glee and with great fear that someone might steal it. The woman decided that she needed a safe place to store her vast treasure. So, she looked around her house and decided that since her house was on a high hill and had thick walls and plenty of guard dogs [woof woof], it would be safe to store the treasure in her room.

But. As she began to tuck the treasure safely away, she felt she was not only hiding her wealth, she was stowing away her heart as well.

The Woman places a big paper heart into the treasure chest, and leaves.

She was certain that the treasure was now safe and sound. But while she was away, a moth came flying over the heads of the guard dogs and through the windows of the thick walls of the woman’s house, and the moth began to eat her treasure.

Moth eats and exits.

That night, before the woman went to bed, she decided that she would entertain herself counting her treasure. She came into her bedroom and opened the treasure chest only to discover that there were holes in the dollar bills. And when she held up her heart, it looked like this.

Holds up heart with moth-bite holes.

Part of her treasure had flown out of the window with the moth. And part of her heart had disappeared as well. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The woman decided she would lose no more of her treasure, and no more of her heart either.  So even though it was late at night, she hefted the treasure box and walked up to a tiny room in the attic where there was not a single window and only a dull lamp to provide a little light. She thought to herself: “No moth will ever get in here!” And she refolded her heart, and she put it in the treasure chest, and went to bed that night certain that her treasure and her heart were as safe and as sound as they could ever be.

She goes to bed.

During the night a great storm came up. There was strong wind, and fierce lightning, Loud thunderclaps and drenching rain. But the woman slept through it all, certain that her treasure was safe and sound. But what she did not know was that there was a leak in the roof over the attic room and water began to pour in and land on her treasure.

The Rain comes in with watering can and pours on her treasure chest. Music changes.

The next morning the woman awoke to a sunny day. But before she went out to enjoy the fresh air, she went upstairs to the little attic room. As she entered she could smell the dampness of everything in the room. In a panic she opened her treasure box and discovered that the fifty-thousand dollar bills  bore rust marks, her treasure soaked.  And when she picked up her heart, it looked like this.

Holds up heart with rust and moth-holes

Her treasure was decaying and her heart as well. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Now the woman decided that the only thing to do was to have a safe built into the thickest and hardest wall in her great house. So that day, instead of enjoying the sun, she hired a workman to build a big strong safe with a fancy lock whose combination would be known only to her.


The Workman delivers safe.

Then she placed her treasure and her heart back in the treasure box and put it all in the safe. She shut the door, whirled the combination this way and that and pulled on the safe handle to make sure it was locked safe and sound. Then the woman went to bed and slept more soundly than ever before.

The Thieves enter.

But during the night, clever thieves fed porterhouse steaks to the guard dogs and found an unlocked window on the ground floor. Quietly, they snuck into the great room and found the safe built into the wall. One thief put his ear next to the lock and began slowly and meticulously  to turn the lock, listening for  the sound of the tumblers. Now, these were very experienced thieves whose ears were very sensitive to the sounds of combination locks.  They found the right combination and took out the treasure box, filling their bag with what they found. Then, with the box back in the safe, they shut the door and left.

Music changes.

The next morning the woman came downstairs and decided to count her treasure.

She opened the safe and took out the box and lifted the lid — and fainted.

When she came to, she looked in the box and discovered that the thief had missed one little coin hidden in the shadow of a corner of the box. And next to the coin, she discovered what was left of her heart.

She holds up a remnant of her heart.

The thief had taken the rest of her treasure away and the rest of her heart as well. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.  She was so sad that she walked out of the house and down toward the village. And as she walked she met a man begging by the side of the road. He needed food for his children. Even the smallest coin would be a great gift in his eyes.

She looked at the man. Then she looked at her last coin and the little piece of heart that she had left. She thought, “Why not give them away? I’ve tried every other way to preserve my treasure and my heart and none of them worked.”  So she dropped the coin in the man’s tin cup [plink] and gave him also all that was left of her heart. The man shook her hand in gratitude and the two of them went their separate ways.

Music swells and ebbs.

Now many years have passed, and we do not know much about what happened to the once fabulously wealthy woman. But one day, she saw someone who reminded her of the man to whom she had given her last coin. She was not certain if he was the same person. This time the man carried a briefcase, and his face shone with confidence. But the man identified the woman right away.

He stopped her and told the story of how her single coin had helped his family buy just enough food to survive until he got a job. He told her how his children had grown up strong and healthy and how all these years he had dreamed of someday repaying  the woman who had given her last coin to him. And with that, he reached into his briefcase and unfolded a heartthat was full and bright and healthy. And as he handed it to her he said to her:

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.



Hymn: “A Grateful Heart is What I Bring (Psalm 111)”[5]

A grateful heart is what I bring;
a song of praise, my offering.
Among the saints I lift my voice:
in you, O God, I will rejoice.

Your name is known in all the lands.
You feed the poor with gentle hands.
Your word is true, your works are just;
in you, O God, the faithful trust.

With saving love you set us free,
and still you dwell in mystery
with wisdom none can comprehend.
Your praise, O God, will never end.


[1] Eugene Petersen’s The Message translation, accessed online at <> (October 15, 2018)

[2] Ray Waddle, “Professor Tom Troeger Retiring on a Song and a Prayer” Yale Divinity School, May 2015, accessed online at <> (October 18, 2018)

[3] “The Grateful Heart” script by Thomas Troeger, Ten Strategies for Preaching in a Multimedia Culture (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996) 31-38, adapted by preacher.  But the book here: <>

[4] CASTKristin Knezevic (The Woman), Leo Gilreath (The Moth), Marion Stanton (The Rain), Max Knezevic (The Thief), Dave Barnes (The Workman), The 4th & 5th Grade Sunday School Class (The Guard Dogs), Don Bear (The Beggar), Michael Conley (Musical Underscoring)

[5] David Gambrell’s words (2013), accessed online at <> (October 13, 2018)


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