Sunday, February 3, 2019
Read Matthew 6:7-21
Back 2001, Dan and I led a mission trip into the mountains of Nicaragua to help with hurricane recovery. We could only take what we could carry for one week. So we filled our hiker’s backpacks with clothes, an extra pair of shoes, snacks and our bibles. We arrived in Managua after sun set, found our guide, and road in a van to our temporary home.
It was a compound surrounded by fence and barbed wire. We could smell the diesel exhaust, burning trash, hear the bark of dogs
and in the early morning the crows of roosters.
After breakfast we piled into the back of a truck
and road into the mountains,
leaving behind running water and electricity,
and cell coverage.
We traveled through the mountains with guides that carried machine guns and machetes.
Over large holes in bridges left behind from the war between the Sandinistas and Contras.
For the most part,
all preconceived notions about safety and normalcy
were left behind.
Our accommodations were the top level of a barn, above the space where the pigs lived.
With full walls on three sides
and a half wall on the forth
allowing in fresh air and a view of the country side.
The family had built a kitchen
on the first floor of the structure
but had not installed a chimney for the stove.
So as daily meals were cooked,
the smoke, from the fire rose to the barn’s ceiling and created a layer of black smoot.
We were in a cold climate rain forest,
so that meant humidity.
Each morning the excess of dew would drop,
mixed with the black smoot
that had accumulated onto the ceiling.
It only took one morning of not sleeping fully inside of sleeping bag to realize
that an uncovered face
was a prime target for the falling substance.
It was a rather humbling experience.
Out away from all that can possess us,
that we might seek to gain and acquire,
we were pulled into community and into the presence of God.
It caused us to pause and wonder
“where do we store our treasure?”
Can moth and rust consume it or does it reside where thieves can break in and steal it?
Where do we store our treasure?
While in Nica, I pondered and still do to this day,
how might experiences so far from our normal,
daily living change us?
How might it help us see our lives,
our priorities, in a new light?
Being taken so far out of my comfort zone, I was struck by the lack of material baggage the people of Nica had.
While this passage is often reserved for Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. The Narrative Lectionary offers it in the season of Epiphany. It is a season of being surprised by the presence of God, of having "ah ha" moments of revelation.
Perhaps in pondering where we store our treasure, we will come to a new understanding of how it is we are to be stewards of all that we possess. Maybe we will be able to see more clearly if our possession possess us.
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