It’s been a year now that Mandy & I have been serving in this community. It certainly has been interesting – in a good way I’ll quickly add. My profile, my contract with the church, was to ‘bring presence’ to this town, this community. There wasn’t much extra detail other than our members are reticent and seek ‘quiet evangelism’.
We have looked to engage with the local community, using the large number of groups which use this church building throughout the week. There are so many people who come through the church doors each and every week. They want to chat, to engage, maybe for someone who might listen to them.
The Faith group has grown and become established as one that engages with a wide variety of different faiths: Buddhism, Islam, Paganism, Atheism and Christianity. The Interfaith Chaplaincy has sought to push back boundaries with the integration of the Churches Together and the local Mosque, so that those of faith can support, care, help and love all whom it meets in the market, both indoor and outdoor, in the shops and in the café in Morrisons.
The Babies and Toddlers group, which meets weekly in term time, has a large number of parents who want to bring their children to play together but also have difficulties which they want to discuss.
In our text today, we have the Kingdom of Heaven which is like a field. Please do not lose the focus on these two parables or stories: it isn’t the treasure nor the pearls we should be reflecting upon – but where they are stored. The Kingdom of Heaven which is like a field. The man hides his treasure in the field. Why? Obvious really.
They didn’t have banks then so actually fields were the place to go – as long as you recall where you hid it! Perhaps it was so valuable.
Why would you hide your treasure only to go back later to sell it? Sounds a bit selfish perhaps?
We then get told of a merchant who is looking for fine pearls. When he found one he bought it. He sold everything he had for this pearl. It must have meant everything to the merchant. His desire for this was so much. The Kingdom of Heaven…
Do you remember the Whaley Bridge recently, when the slipway broke up due to the excessive rainfall.? So many people had to leave their homes in quite a rush. And they weren’t allowed back! Well after a while they were allowed to go back escorted for 15 minutes to rescue their valuables.
What valuables would you rescue?
For some photographs, a thing of the past for the younger generations perhaps, might be that item to save; or your jewellery; or was it the computer or phone? What did we treasure most??
These eight parables in the Matthew Chapter 13 tell of the value of Jesus to the Church.
How much do we treasure of our understanding of Jesus?
Is it a Sunday thing or does it flow through every sinew of our body? It could be described as what oozes out of our body – perhaps not an image we might like to ponder upon; however, it does give us an indication of what having such treasure within us, oozing out, flooding out might be like.
No we don’t have to shout Jesus in the market square but can we speak naturally of what Jesus means to us in our lives?
Have you walked through a field which is a badge wet? – I have these walking boots. I remember when I walked onto the Vale Park in Todmorden early October last year and found myself wading not walking. It had been raining – nothing unusual about rain here I know. I had to come back into church in just my socks as the boots were wet through. I felt all holy – not the socks – but that I had to walk without shoes in church! We, the parents and I, were watching a youth football match one Sunday morning, there were lots of parents there, chatting. It was for them the place to be, despite the rain and the mud. It was an opportunity to chat with others. What an opportunity to chat. Was this field Heaven to them?
We have seen at Easter the delight when people left this building, clutching chocolate eggs, and shared their joy of that time, Jesus’ resurrection, in simple ways. They didn’t keep it hidden but shared that joy.
We have seen at Babies and Toddlers that when we have been able to listen to parents they have found a release, this could be that desire to find that pearl. They desire someone who is willing to listen, to try to understand, to help them rationalise their issues – not solve their problem – they wanted to speak to someone from Church.
We have seen with the Chaplaincy that when we are available people come to us and share, speak of their sorrows and want the Church to play their part in helping, caring. We offer to pray, to be available.
Recall that Jesus said that Heaven is near, that Heaven is at hand, it isn’t up there, distant, remote, but with us now.
Oh wow, if we could only
just make that apparent
to people outside of church,
that they didn’t have to wait until they die
to taste, touch, know of Heaven.
As you have heard the story of Jesus…
Where are you going this week?
Who will you meet?
What might you share?