|17th Sunday A 27.07.2014
Introduction You are all welcome, especially if you are visitors to Malvern. St Matthew gives us two telling parables about the buried treasure and the pearl of great price. We are asked to think about what we treasure and ask ourselves, “Does this give us deep joy?”
The man discovered the treasure hidden in a field
Lord have mercy
He decided to sell all he had to buy the field
Christ have mercy
He was filled with joy ay what he had gained.
Lord have mercy
Kings 3 You have asked for wisdom
Psalm 118 Lord, how I love your law
Rom 8 We are to become true images of his son
Acclamation I call your friends says the Lord
because I have made known to you
everything I have learned from my Father.
I was born very near to Hammerwich where the Staffordshire Hoard was found in 2009. It is nearly all the spoils of battle with most items of gold, inlaid with garnets. I read all I can about it and I queued to see it in Birmingham, weeks after it was found by Terry Herbert.
In Jesus’ two linked stories, the men who found the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price, got rid of everything in order to raise the money to buy their heart’s desire. This filled their hearts with joy to acquire such marvellous objects.
It seems to me that the Bible readings this morning are asking us, “What do you really value?” “Will it be any use to you in the long run?”
Notice that they both go to great lengths to posses what they want. They keep their own counsel about their quest. What would their wives have said about all this outlay? Are you out of your mind? What are we going to do with this mortgage? Where are we going to live?
What is the treasure for us? What is the pearl? I think the joy comes from finding the friendship of Jesus and a purpose for living. If we find the Lord, we have everything. This is why Solomon is praised for desiring true wisdom. Jesus helps us to see things as they really are.
Look at the two little stories. For the first man, his discovery came as a surprise, like a metal detectorist finding Anglo-Saxon gold. The second man was on the look-out for an exquisite pearl. We too can meet the Lord suddenly and unexpectedly or it may be a growing faith from a sincere search.
Both men are certain that what they have found is their heart’s desire and they both go to great pains to achieve their desire. They realize it will give them lasting happiness. So the question for us is, “Is my faith a routine affair? Is it something of a burden? Is it at the very centre of who I am? Is it my goal and my purpose?”
I think some people leave the church and are bored with religion, without ever ‘tasting’ God. They have never been touched by God and never discovered the treasure. When we discover that ‘God reigns’ it is exciting: It is life-changing and we would sell anything to be part of it. Where do I look?
It’s not like a discussion or an argument about football or politics. You can’t discuss theology to taste the kingdom. Where do I look then? I must look at my own heart, deep within myself looking towards the Lord. In stillness I must look at my priorities; my desires; my worries. Then I have to ask him in.
St Augustine says, “Don’t scatter yourself around. Look to your intimate being. Truth resides in the inner person”
I am living now and one day I will die. What then? Do I believe that Jesus offers me living water, bubbling up to eternal life? Am I willing to walk with him now as a friend, so that he can show me The Way to my destination?
This inner search is called prayer. What is at the centre of my life? Is it Me;Me:Me? Have I yet discovered the presence of the One who has the power to change lives? Jesus called Peter and Mary Magdalene, Paul, Therese of Lisieux, Maximilian Kolbe, Mary McKillop and countless other men and women. Do you give him time to catch your eye?
These little stories are provoking for us now, whether we are young or old. If our beliefs are to do us any good at all, they must be a joyful, warm and re-vitalizing experience. When we find the treasure, we meet the Lord Jesus.