The Rev. David Sellery
From Treasure Island to Indiana Jones, there is something about stories of buried treasure, secret maps and hidden clues that uniquely captures our imagination. Over the ages the elusive dream of riches beyond counting has led people up the Amazon in search of El Dorado and down to the grocery store to blow the milk money on lottery tickets.
This week’s gospel is full of clues on where to find the ultimate treasure… the kingdom of heaven. Is it in a mustard seed… buried in a field… or in a rare pearl? What is this kingdom and how do we find it? Here we need no obscure clues or secret maps. Jesus openly preaches and lives the kingdom. He points the way in plain words and loving deeds… larger than life, transcending death. Knowing he faced execution, Jesus comforted his disciples saying: I am the way the truth and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.
Jesus shows us that the kingdom is living here and hereafter in God’s love. The Peace of Christ, the Kingdom of Heaven… they are one. Through the grace of God, they are found in the realization that the flawed children of Eve are his beloved. In our pride, in our hypocrisy, in our darkest hour, you and I are cherished with a love beyond understanding. Christ did not live and die to redeem some abstraction called “mankind.” He went to the cross deliberately and specifically to save you, to save me, to save each one of us individually. As our Evangelical brothers and sisters so accurately describe Jesus: He is our personal Savior. In his love, the kingdom lives.
Jesus goes on to explain why he uses parables: This is as the prophet said: I will speak using stories; I will tell things that have been secret since the world began. Jesus did not come to banter with theologians. He came to save each one of us, to lead us to the kingdom of heaven. The genius of the parables is their profound simplicity and their undeniable truth. Knowing he faces opposition, he is the stone the builders rejected. Knowing the worth of the kingdom, he tells us of apearl beyond price. Knowing our stubborn ways, he reminds us that the harvest awaits us all. Revealing his loving Father, he shows us the prodigal returning home to joyful forgiveness.
In many parables and in his direct charge, Jesus is particularly clear that to those that much has been given, much is expected. That goes double for his ministers. I have not answered his call to St. John’s in lovely Salisbury, Connecticut, to enjoy the beautiful scenery and to help the congregation get their ticket to heaven punched once a week. I am here; we are all here to build the kingdom of heaven. That’s not a rhetorical flourish. It is not a grand and meaningless gesture. It is the essence of the God’s great commandment. It is the only reason why we walk the earth.
Living with that reality is the first step to building the kingdom. The next is committing to the kingdom, making it the focus of our lives. That is God’s plan for us. The kingdom of God will not be built by a few great saints. It will take millions of sinners, like you and me… getting up every day, witnessing Christ’s love, though often failing and falling… but always being forgiven in true contrition… being fortified in grace… then getting up again, resolved to build the kingdom.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God… It is there for the asking. It is there for the building. God loves you beyond measure. Start digging for his treasure. It’s not hidden. You’ll find it in his love. Spend every day in that knowledge. Go home to him in that certainty.
Copyright 2014, David Sellery. Used by permission.