Preached at Fairview United Church, July 24, 2005
Focus text Matthew 13:44-46
In today’s reading from Matthew we heard 5 parables explaining the kingdom of heaven. Each of which shows the commitment required for entry into the kingdom. The parables of the wheat and the yeast show how only a little faith can grow and do great things. The final parable of the fishing net tells us that it is God who will make the decision as to whom he lets into the kingdom.
This morning we are going to take a look at the two parables regarding treasures. The first is of a person working in a field. This person finds a treasure and decides to sell all he has to buy the field. Just so he can have this treasure.
The second is of a pearl merchant. Pearls are today’s equivalent to diamonds, or maybe oil. This merchant finds the greatest pearl he has ever seen. So he sells everything he has to buy just one pearl.
Both of these people have found treasures beyond their wildest dreams, and make pretty drastic changes in their lives to keep the treasure.
In the story of the man in the field, there is some question as to how ethical his behaviour is. He hid the treasure until he was able to buy the field. He didn’t tell the owner of the land, he simply bought the field. But that is not the focus of this story. The focus of this story is what this person was willing to give up for this unexpected treasure.
I assume as a congregation with a healthy sized Sunday School, and a well stocked nursery, you are quite used to the excitement of parents and their newborn babies. I remember bringing taking our daughter Anna to church for the first time. Everyone had to see us, and we proudly showed her off to everyone. That’s how it is with new parents, we are exhausted, but still there is an energy in the community with a new baby.
With the baby comes pictures, birth announcements, showers, lots of visitors. We want the whole world to know about our new baby! I’ve set up a page on the internet holding hundreds of pictures of Anna so we can show her off to family and friends around the world.
Do most people care? Probably not, but we’re just to excited!
Imagine for a moment that we are in charge of cleaning up a house for a family member that has recently passed away. Grandpa was such a packrat, the house is cluttered with all sorts of junk. So we begin the process of cleaning out the house so maybe we can sell it.
We finally get to a closet in the spare bedroom. What a mess! As we pull out some old binders some papers fall out. They look like they might be interesting so we sit and begin to read them. They are old newspapers marking key events in history. There’s one detailing the days after the Halifax Explosion. Another is announcing the sinking of the Titanic. Yet another proclaims the end of World War 2!
It takes a few moments, but we realize people will pay top dollar for these papers! So we start making some calls. We call relatives and friends to share in the excitement! Reporters from TV, radio, newspapers, they all want to talk to us to learn about what we found. And collectors from all over the world begin to call and knock on our door. We have found something that the world wants to share in, and we want the world to know about!
You see, joy is contagious.
People naturally want to share the exciting news of their lives. New parents want to share their joy in a baby. What about people in the early stages of true love? While most of us might want to avoid the lovey dovey, don’t make me sick, affection of new lovers. They want the world to know they’ve found their soul mate and we want to be happy for them.
Joy is contagious!
What about the church? As Christians we have a relationship with God that gives us eternal life with him through Jesus Christ! We should be the happiest people on the planet! What if someone in our community heard we are having a feast on Sunday morning with God? They sneak up to the window and peak in to watch us celebrate this feast. Inside we are celebrating communion. I don’t know how you celebrate communion here, but most, well all, churches I’ve taken communion in, it is FAR from a celebration. If that is what we call celebrating, I’d hate to see us in sorrow.
We do wonderful things in the name of the Lord. Very important work. We have outreach programs, such as the family centre you have here. We contribute to world causes, such as tsunami relief. We lobby for the rights of the oppressed, such as poverty in Africa and Latin America, and many other great things. But where is our joy and excitement? Do people sense we have found a treasure greater than anything else in the world?
Joy is contagious!
Just like newborn children, weddings, birthdays, people want to celebrate our joy with us. The happiest events I have been to are weddings and gatherings celebrating babies. There is energy and joy, people want to be part of the celebration of happiness.
When people in the community around us hear us talk about our church, what do they hear? Do they see our excitement in being part of a community of God? Or do they see the drain that meetings and other demands put on our time? How do others see the role of the church in our lives? Is it a joy, or is it a burden?
We have found a treasure from God, in Jesus Christ who died for all our sins. We found the key to the kingdom of heaven! Is there any greater treasure? Don’t we want the whole world to know our joy? Don’t we want to share our joy? Don’t we want to share the treasure with others?
Paul, is his letter to the Romans, reminds us this morning of his own excitement as a servant of God.
â€œIf God is for us, who is against us? … For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.â€ (Rm. 31b, 38, 39)
In Paul’s excitement he proclaims his faith in the treasure found in Jesus Christ. Nothing can take that away from him, and he is sharing it will all who will hear him.
How do you share your joy in being part of God’s kingdom?