“When Values Go Down”, Rev. Armen Hanjian

Luke 12:13-21 WHEN VALUES GO DOWN    Jan.. 14, 2018

Rev. Armen Hanjian

When values go down – it’s unsettling.  It happened drastically to the man in Jesus’ parable who built bigger barns to hold his increased crops only to wake up one morning – dead.

What is the value of a glass of water?  Very little to the one who runs the faucet waiting for it to get cold. Life itself(big money) for the one lost in a desert.

Just because the value of a person is always high in God’s eyes, it may vary greatly for us as we look on another or we look at ourselves.

It is true that people go through changes as we age and our physical strength may lesson – understanding can be increasing.  But usually, our self worth shifts because of our attitude about our self and not because there has been some real external change.

Try this experiment.  Look someone in the eye and if you can honestly say it, say: “I love you.  I’ll gladly spend some of my life’s time and my energy to support you.”  You know what will happen; the person’s feelings of self worth will go up.


Self worth and happiness go hand in hand. Several years ago Henry Wallick made this comment:  “If wealth could buy happiness, Americans should be the happiest people on earth. In this winter of our discontent, it is obvious that wealth is failing us….We face a failure of money to do what it is supposed to do – satisfy wants.”

It is true, we feel some measure of happiness and security when stocks go up, when our property value goes up, when salary and savings go up.  However, the scripture and the wisdom people thru the ages warn us, that is not the bottom line.  The value we place on our physical self and even more so on our purposeful self are the significant factors.  Although, just being    is value enough from God’s perspective.

Physical selves.  Purposeful selves.  First, valuing our physical selves.  Do you see your body as a wonderful, valuable, awesome asset?  I doubt that many focus on that.  So many spend their time trying to change their body – being discontent with how it turned out.  I’m not just talking make up covering a pimple.

When the psalmist proclaims of God: “Wonderful Thou art and wonderful are thy works.”  The physical appearance is just a tiny aspect of our physical selves.

If you are an adult of average weight, here is what you accomplish in 24 hours:

Your heart beats 103,689 times.

Your blood travels 168,000,000 miles.

You breath 23,040 times.

You inhale 438 cubic feet of air.

You eat 3 1/4 pounds of food.

You drink 2.9quarts of liquids.

You lose 7/8 pound of waste.

You speak 4,800 words including some unnecessary ones.

You move 750 muscles.

You exercise  7,000,000brain cells.

The Psalm writers didn’t know these numbers and yet were aware more than most of us the awesome wonder of the workings of the body.

A scientist , having received a card which jokingly set the value of the elements of his body at 98 cents. Determined to calculate his value by evaluating the DNA structures and cells.  He came up with 6 billion dollars.  In fact, he said, the billions of libraries in each sell are worth that much.

In one of the cartoon episodes of Peanuts,  Snoopy the dog is watching the children and saying to himself: “I wonder why some of us were born dogs while others were born people.  Is it pure chance or what is it?  Somehow, the whole thing doesn’t seem very fair.”  Then as he walks away, he exclaims,  “Why should I have been the lucky one?”

How we see ourselves affects our feelings about ourselves.  And whether or not we see ourselves as a real and significant part of God’s purpose also affects how we value ourselves. It is true for you and me and it is true for us as a church.

Carl Sandburg once said, “Nothing happens unless it is first a dream.”  We have to dream of great things if we are going to accomplish great things.  But the way to make a dream come true is to wake up.  Sandburg was touring Washington, D.C. with a friend.  As they passed by the National Archives building the friend noticed a line from Shakespeare –

“All the past is prologue.” He asked Sandburg, what that meant.  To which he replied, “That means you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

If you concluded the glory and climax of this church was when the building was built or when so and so was the minister here or when the addition was added or when the membership was at it’s peak, then I am asking you to look at the church and at yourself differently.  Believe and live out the belief that the best is yet to come.

Dream, share your dreams; let others be captured by your dreams then together let’s carry them out.  Jesus disciples were ready to include the whole world in their vision.

And if it is a challenging dream; if it is something God would surely bless, then stick with it even though there may be some negative signs from others early on. Note Lincoln’s road to the White House.

Failed in business in 1831.

Defeated for Legislature in1832.

Second failure in business in 1833.

Defeated for Speaker in 1838.

Defeated for Elector in 1840.

Defeated for Congress in 1843.

Defeated for Senate in 1848.

Defeated for Vice President in 1856.

Defeated for Senate in 1858.

Elected President in 1860.    Dreams take persistence!

When Howard University was celebrating their 250th anniversary, they choose to have a parade. First came the President of the University, then the 3 graduates who had become U.S presidents, then the faculty, then the seniors, the juniors the sophomores and the freshmen.

The freshmen, not to be degraded on the day of the parade, after each of the other groupings went by had a sign which read, “The purpose of the first 250 years was in preparation for us.”

Do you have that sense?  That the purpose of the first 220 years of this Chilmark Church, the first 2017 or so years of the Christian Church was in preparation for us.  Do you see yourselves as one of the foremost waves of God’s flowing purpose?

If you conclude: “I ain’t much of anything and I ain’t much good for anything,”  then you forget God doesn’t make junk.  It may be useful to keep in mind the sculptor Michael Angelo.  He was examining a block of stone which other sculptors had

discarded and was asked, “What do you see?”  He answered, “An angel, an angel!”

They who stay close to Jesus and to people of faith keep getting affirmed.  They keep being viewed as someone of value.

Then when you see  yourself as a potential blessing for God – you are then in a most appropriate place to be a blessing. Some action will follow.  Persons were made for action.

William James, in a lecture he gave years ago at Stamford University, called for a moral equivalent to war.  He saw clearly that war persists because people want action and it will end when we find decent causes to take it’s place.

I want to do one more thing be fore I conclude.  Because you are, each one, a person of value, I want to look each of you in the eye and I want to say this:” I love you. I will gladly spend some of my life’s time and  my energy to support you.!”

There may be value in saying we are not worthy to pick up the crumbs from under your table, but there is an appropriateness in saying  , “God, I am one of your people; feed me, bless me, use me to fulfill your vision for us human beings.”