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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Today’s Reading | Matthew 6:19–24

“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.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (NRSV)

A story about a Buddhist teaching tells of a man who was on a journey by foot. He came to a river that he needed to cross. He looked for a bridge to cross or a boat to ride, but he found neither. So with strenuous effort, he built a raft out of twigs and branches. With the help of this raft, he successfully crossed the river. On the other side, he could proceed again by foot. What should he do with the raft? Should he drag it along or leave it behind?

Some things, like the raft, are useful for part of the journey, but not for holding onto.

Wendell Berry wrote about a dear family friend he called Lily. Lily lived a long life, outliving her husband, and when she could no longer manage things on her own, she had to sell her belongings and move out of her home and into a nursing home. During a visit with her a day or two after the sale, Lily spoke of it, saying, “I’m all finished now. Everything is done.” Wendell was surprised at the cheer in her voice, and so he asked her, “Lily, is it a load off your mind?” She responded, “Well, Wendell, it hurt me. I laid here the night when I knew it was all gone, and I could see it all, all the things I’d cared for so long. But, yes, it is a load off my mind” (The Way of Ignorance, p. 81).

When we try to figure out what to let go and what to keep, it’s helpful to know where it is we are trying to go and what stage of the journey we are in. Like Lily, we are on a journey; we are not here on earth forever. So why store up for ourselves things on earth?

God of our lives, you are the alpha and the omega of our lives. Until we find our ultimate rest in you, give us what we need when we need it, and when it is time, help us to let go of the load. Amen.

Written by Joyce Shin, Associate Pastor for Congregational Life

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