Mathew 6:1-6; 6:16-21
“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay 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.”
The hawk appeared in the afternoon sky from above the trees. He angled slightly like planes coming in for a landing, and the sun flashed on his chest as he lit upon a branch.
Later that evening, the sky turned indigo blue as day became evening and evening became night.
And Tuesday morning, the tiny pond in the yard got in on the winter storm act. It stood frozen in its spot at the bottom of the creek, as if to invite miniature ice skaters to perform figure eights on its surface.
The indigo sky.
A tiny frozen pond.
Treasures, treasures all.
“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.”
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Why are a hawk, the indigo sky and a tiny pond treasures? For me, and I imagine for most if not all of you, it’s because they are of nature. We know that they are God’s creations, God’s handiwork, they reveal God’s glory and thru them we come to know God better.
And you most likely have your own treasures from the natural world. The view of the sunset from your kitchen window; the way in which your dog or cat greets you when you come in the door — yes, even cats are entirely capable of welcoming their family home! The sound of rain on your roof.
We all have treasures — in the natural world and beyond.
But what does Jesus mean here exactly when he says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” What does our treasure have to do with our heart?
At. St. David’s, those questions have stared us in the face for the past year or year and a half as we have undergone our Capital campaign. Valuing the opportunities for ministry that our new parish hall, which we of course know as Jeffords Hall, provides for classes, workshops, special events, Sunday breakfasts and Wednesday dinners, we at the same time discerned that we wanted to be able to reduce our monthly payments to its mortgage in order to make funds available for additional ministries.
And throughout the campaign process, we identified three areas that we wanted to address with those funds: an elevator, renovating the organ and a priest whose primary responsibility will be to tend to the families at St. David’s who still have children at home. And we plan to have them all in place by September 1, 2015.
So those are the targets, the goals. But what values, what treasures are inherent in each one?
The elevator: It will mean that all, no matter what one’s physical capability, can get easily from the church building to Jeffords Hall and back. As we dig into the question of why we feel led to install an elevator, we discover all kinds of treasures: the desire to be inclusive; the desire to meet the needs of all people who come to this place; the desire to make the campus a unified whole.
The organ: What values, what treasures are inherent in our choice to give it new life? Our acknowledgement that music enhances our worship and takes us to places in our spiritual lives in a way that nothing else can; an acknowledgement that a fine musical instrument can provide ways for us to reach out to other communities through concerts, recitals and other special events. Our acknowledgement that music stirs our souls.
And the new priest. What values, what treasures drove that choice? Again, a desire to be inclusive; a desire to meet the needs of the people who worship and live in this community; a desire to nurture parents and to be a place where children can come to know God and God’s people in a safe, lively, embracing environment that will shape how they experience their faith, how they will experience their relationship with God, throughout their lives.
So, yes, we have three projects planned that can now be funded through the money raised through the capital campaign. But we also have had an opportunity to ask ourselves what matters to us, what values we hold, where is our treasure, where is our heart.
And just as with every person, family, government or other organization, our values get reflected in how we choose to spend our money.
So now what? What values, what treasures might we watch for as we go forward with these projects?
As we today move into Lent, how can we spend time in reflecting upon our own values, discern what it is that we truly treasure and as individuals and as a parish, discover where exactly are our hearts?
We can anticipate some of the effects of the changes these three projects will bring, but much will happen that we can’t identify ahead of time.
The elevator and organ will bring construction to our midst — and as with all construction, disruption and confusion will be part of the process. What about the noise, the physical changes to the area where the elevator will go, what happens to the music while the organ is being renovated?
What will the new priest be like? How will he or she fit with the clergy and staff already in place? What will his or her style be like?
As we come across the disruption and confusion that will come with these changes — expected and unexpected — we can reach back to the capital campaign process itself and hold close the values that shone forth as we discerned our path. The values of being inclusive; of meeting the needs of the people who worship here and who will come to worship here; of making our worship soar through splendid liturgy and music.
And we can hold close other values, as well, other treasures. The value of patience and lightheartedness, good humor, as we deal with the changes that are coming and coming soon. The value of welcome and hospitality as we embrace our new priest.
The value of knowing that being inconvenienced now means that we will grow stronger and deeper once the changes are in place. The value of knowing that God has led us this far and will continue to lead us through the change into the new light.
And as we do, as we hold our values, our treasures, close to our heart, we can think of them as we do the tiny pond frozen on a February morning;
the indigo sky as evening turns to night;
and we can soar with the hawk, the sun flashing as we come to land in that place where we are home, where our treasures are, where our hearts are.
Delivered at St. David’s
February 18, 2015