Wednesday, August 2, 2017

July 30 Sermon (12 A)

O Lord, we pray that you would lead us to discover your hidden treasure in the field and awaken our hearts that we may have the eyes to see you, and be surprised by joy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

I had a great time at Camp Washington. The theme for the week was Hospitality & Communion. We explored the Gospels and Jesus interactions with others in places of hospitality and meals. We also explored the communion of saints and their presence in our lives and at camp.

Today’s Gospel explores the idea of the Kingdom of God. Jesus used parables to talk about the kingdom of God…

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Finding the treasure, which is the Kingdom of God, is what our discipleship as Christians is about. When you are a parent, you often think about the seeds we plant in our kids. If you are absent because of work or service, how will they know what is important? Will they find the true treasure?

She is the mother of two boys and serves in the U.S. Army. When on deployment she does her best to stay in touch with her family through e-mail, Skype and cards. Still, she realized that she was missing out on the little day-to-day moments parents have with their kids: the funny things you find out about them, the way they think about stuff, the small discoveries that lead to profound wisdom.

Then she read about the "key jar." A teacher created a jar of questions. Every day the class would spend time drawing a question and sharing their answers. The questions were designed to "jump start" their thinking and "unlock" the values of their hearts - hence the name, "key jar."

So this Army mom created such a "key jar" for her family. The questions and answers made for interesting and revealing conversations around their dinner table:

If you were an inventor, what would you invent, and why? What do you want to accomplish by your next birthday? Who in your class makes you smile? What's something that is hard for you? How were you a helper today? If somebody from another planet came to Earth, what would he or she think of our world?

Many of the boys' answers were funny, but as many were thoughtful and sweet. This mom had a glimpse inside her sons' hearts and was proud and moved by what she saw and heard. [From "Key Jar" by Ashley Allen, Guideposts, May 2016, and Erin Waters, writing in]

Their "key jar" enables this mom and her boys to discover the pearls of great value they seek, the treasures within themselves and one another, the many discoveries and lessons they collect in the seeds planted each day. Sometimes we're surprised at the treasure we take for granted, the pearl in our midst that we overlook - and at other times, we realize that the hidden treasure we gave our all to obtain left us impoverished, the fine pearl we moved heaven and earth to possess cost us dearly.

As this family comes to understand in their taking on the questions in their "key jar," the hidden treasures and pearls of good value are the things of God’s kingdom: the love of family and friends, the support found in being part of a community, the sense of joy and fulfillment found in serving and giving for the sake of one other.

What happened at Camp Washington this past week was finding such treasure...

And I am not just talking about my role. As chaplain I did lead the worship, both the morning formation period and the compline that ended each night. And we looked for the pearl of great value, the Kingdom of God in our midst.

But the staff, through the love and compassion they shared with each camper, the fun times and the free play they engaged in. To the activities that each child signed up for, led by a staff member whose gifts helped them enjoy their activity. All that went on, even the space of Camp Washington helped them enjoy themselves in the beauty of God’s creation. What a joy it was to see such ministry going on!

Many seeds of life were planted this week, seeds of God’s love and understanding one’s self in God’s creation. We found the treasure, we found God in our midst, and we offered it to one another with hospitality.

It is about the Kingdom of God right now breaking forth…

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
~ The Bright Field by R. S. Thomas ~ 


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