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Thursday after Lent II–March 12, 2009

  • Posted on Mar 12, 2009

Treasures that do not fade

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

Here is one of my favorite scripture passages. As we prepared to move to Africa, this passage became my touchstone as we let go of many of our material possessions through yard sales and gifts to friends rather than put our possessions in storage. This past year, we did a similar move as we moved from a large Rectory to a two-bedroom apartment. At some point, as we pondered whether to keep this chair or that box of saved pictures, I thought back to this passage–a passage that allowed us to make that big move to South Africa.

What really is our treasure? You can always ask yourself: if my house caught on fire, what would I save? The closest I have come to my own answer to that question was the evening of the last burglary at our home in South Africa. We were about a month from moving back to the States and were home for a night in the middle of traveling around the country with friends. We went to dinner and when we returned home, we noticed that our back door had been broken. The steel bars that protected the wooden door were lried apart and the wooden door gashed almost in two. As we entered the house, we saw that nothing had been taken. In a flash, we realized that we had come upon the burglars just as they had begun their evening’s work. They were surely hiding in the bushes close by. Fear immediately set in. We knew that we could easily become the victims of serious physical crimes. In my heart, all I wanted to do was to get our children away from the situation. Bryan told us to take one car and drive to a parishioners. He would quickly close up the house. We all got to our parishioner’s home safely.

The next morning we returned home to find everything gone. Since we had sent our large possessions ahead, there was not much furniture to take. However, all our clothes were gone including my stoles and vestments. My cloth bible cover had been ripped from the bible (I still use that bible as my main bible). Towels, sheets, everything was gone. But in that moment I knew that the most important thing–my treasures–were still with me. Bryan, Jack and Anna were all fine–if a little shaken. In the days right after the burglary, I kept repeating, “Everyone is all right. No one was hurt.” In South Africa, too often, burglaries and robberies ended in truly horrific violent crime. I felt blessed.

In this tough economic times, what are your treasures? In a moment when you are forced to choose what to take with you, what would you do? What really matters?