Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal. – Matthew 6:19 (NRSV)
As soon as I heard that a parishioner was plagued by an infestation of bed bugs, I imagined those little critters burying into the pew cushions for a nap or a future snack on my sweater.
So after a sleepless night on my computer, I granted myself an honorary online degree in Bed Bug Analysis in order to help Hank do battle. But I wasn’t prepared for all he faced.
When Hank called an exterminator, he was given only one option: to toss all his stuff into a dumpster and lose it all. When I called the same exterminator, I was given various options, none of them pleasant, but none of them requiring that I strip my home of all my possessions.
My stuff was presumed to be of value, but Hank was expected to toss away a lifetime of collectibles, as if he was to blame for his own infestation. Hank’s neighbor had been evicted by his same landlord for having bed bugs. So these were his limited choices.
Thank God for another parishioner with connections in the rodent and extermination world. After the exterminator got a talking to, Hank’s belongings were preserved.
So today, I want to testify to the value of Hank’s stuff.
When Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,” I don’t think he was talking about people like Hank, who live on little and still give generously.
Jesus was talking to the pampered people, like me, whose bed bugs get the royal treatment, in a world that values stuff over substance.
Great exterminator, do your work on the pest of judgment in our hearts. Amen.
Lillian Daniel’s new book Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To: Spirituality without Stereotypes, Religion without Ranting is now available for purchase, but you can hear it all for free at 1st Congregational Church of Dubuque, Iowa.