For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
—Matthew 6:21

 

When the church that I worship at had to close in mid-March because of a COVID-19 case, I took it in stride. I was looking forward to the church re-opening on April 4, just before Palm Sunday. Then came the Circuit Breaker, and now, the extension until June 1.

The news was most disappointing. How could I gather with others to worship God when the church was closed?

But I felt God asking me: “Where is your heart? Can you not worship Me even when the church is closed? Can you still worship Me without the tools of worship—no sanctuary, no instruments, no worship slides, no Communion . . . just you and Me?”

He also asked me: “What are you longing for? What is your deepest desire?”

In Matthew 6:21, Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

The Circuit Breaker has prompted me to look deeply into my heart . . . and I haven’t liked what I found. I have discovered that my treasure, the things that I deeply value, is not always with God, but often with the institution of the church.

I long to return to church work. I miss the routine of church worship services. I desire normalcy and the familiarity of church life. You could even say that I love church life more than I love a devotional life with God.

I’ve discovered that I am like Martha, who was too busy serving to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His heart, like Mary (Luke 10:38-42).

The revelation has made me question my definition of productivity and fruitfulness. Can my service be fruitful for God when I am stuck at home? Can I still help the needy and the vulnerable who have been worst-hit by the pandemic?

During this stay-home period, I’m learning to return to the heart of worship. I’m learning to go back to the true treasure of my heart—God. And I’ve come to realise that God is more concerned about the condition of my personal worship life than He is about my public church life.

Our personal devotion to God can never be taken away from us, even by this coronavirus. That’s why Jesus commended Mary, saying, she “has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

He also tells us in Matthew 6:19–20:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Where are our hearts during this pandemic? What kind of treasures are we acquiring, and where are we storing them?

In this time, may we not miss the opportunity to slow down, pause, and take stock of our lives. May we allow the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts, so that we will cultivate a true treasure that cannot perish or be taken away.

Father, please bring me back to the heart
of worship, and remember that
it’s not about church services
and practices, but about being
in Your wonderful presence.

 

This article was first published in St. Andrew’s Cathedral’s Service Facebook pages. Adapted with permission.

What does it really mean to be a part of the church community? Explore this question with Together Alive: Rediscovering Community Living in God’s Family, our new Discussion Guide for Small Groups.

Rev Hambali Leonardi is the pastor-in-charge of the 9 AM and 11:30 AM services at St. Andrew’s Cathedral.