March 2015 Pastor’s Pen
Dear Holy Trinity family,
Our Ash Wednesday Gospel ended like this:
“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 your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Do you remember the smell of mothballs? My Grandma Horton and Aunt Flo had lots of mothballs in the closets where they kept their winter clothes. I used to wonder if that was really necessary… until I became an adult and moved away from home and put my sweaters in summer storage without mothballs. I learned why the “moth-eaten” look is not popular! (Now I use a cedar chest to keep my woolens safe. I’ll choose the fragrance of cedar over camphor every time!)
The original Greek for the passage above also conjures up grain stores that have been nibbled, diminished, spoiled by mice and rats. When we speak of donating “non-perishables” we usually mean canned goods, pasta, dried beans, jars of peanut butter, tins of tuna, dried milk, anything that has a good long shelf life.
Our Lord Jesus teaches us that worldly wealth is not going to translate into treasure in heaven. If what we prize most highly today can be stolen by thieves or spoiled by rodents tomorrow, if its value will erode over time, it’s not worth our spiritual energy to stockpile it. Nor is it anything on which we should pin our hopes. Minimally, it will disappoint us. Maximally, it will betray us.
I don’t know any people who would say that the balance in their checking or savings or investment accounts is the greatest good in their lives. I can’t imagine anyone saying that career is more important than family or friends. No one has ever told me that season tickets to a favorite sports team weigh more heavily than faith practice. But practically speaking, where or with whom do we spend our time? In what do we invest our energy? Bottom line wisdom: look at where you spend your time and your money to see what you truly value most.
The whole point of retreating to a “Lenten wilderness” in prayer is to sweep the clutter from our brain, silence the chatter of the world, disengage from the demands others make on us and that we place upon ourselves, clear the spiritual airwaves so the Holy Spirit has airtime and wing room to speak to our hearts, to offer us a new perspective on our life.
We may not have gone terribly astray – but when’s the last time we were “reverently responsive”* to our Lord?? Are we laying up treasure in heaven by worshiping God and serving neighbor or are we busy and exhausted feathering our own nest?
“Brother John” Gaudreau publishes an on-line mini-devotion called Morning Whispers**. It includes a Scripture verse accompanied by a photo and 2 or 3 sentences of reflection. Here’s what he wrote on Sun., Feb. 22, about Matthew 3:1-3:
John the Baptist led a simple, austere life. Its focus was to live for his mission -the heralding of Christ among us. During this Lenten season, it would be good for all of us to whittle down our hectic pace and focus on the Master who emptied himself for humanity. You know what I mean by simplifying.
It doesn't mean wild locusts and honey.
“Non-perishable” food for thought!
Pastor Mary Virginia Farnham
*Isaiah 66:2, The Message. "Used with Brother John's permission." Go to our HT website to see the on-line Lenten devotion for 2/23.
**You can subscribe by going to www.perfectpeaceandjoy.org.