Offering The Treasures: Rev. Judy’s Homily for the 17th Sunday OT July 27, 2014
Opening Prayer: Our loving God, You want all good things for Your people and You give us treasure beyond compare in Your love and in Your word and in Your son Jesus, the Christ whom we follow. Grant that we may cherish your Gifts and bring ours to you so Your kin-dom may come. We ask this in the name of Jesus who lives with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forevermore. Amen.
Today Jesus teaches us that there is treasure to be found, and we might just stumble across it; there are priceless pearls found when we search for them; and there are fish aplenty though some may not be tasty. In the words of the Epistle to the Romans(8:28-30), when we love God “all things work together for good” for us. And when we find the treasures of the kin-dom, they are worth everything. How wonderful is God’s giving to us.
I treasure the very few things that I received from my Grandmother Ella and Mother Anne that have survived the many decades since I was a young girl. Both gave me the intangible and enduring gifts of unconditional love and faith. They loved me no matter what. And their faith in God was passed down to me as their legacy. Those are gifts without price that made all the difference in my life. Over the fireplace in our living room there was always a little 3″ by 4″ plaque framed in gold leaf, with pine cones and little fir boughs in two corners that said: “All things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28). I have it before me now. We knew poverty and illness and good times and bad times. My Grandmother would comment as the bad times passed-“It all worked together for good,as God said”. Sometimes I couldn’t see it, especially at times of loss and grief or change. But in time it was evident. What a priceless gift! As Mr. Gary, our church Elder, often says: God’s got your back! Wow!
In the first reading from Kings(3:5,7-12), Solomon asked only one thing of God, a wise and understanding, discerning, heart, and God granted his prayer. That was his treasure, his gift from God and he gave it back in good measure. Many of us who counsel others have prayed that prayer in the midst of life’s complexities and challenges especially when we struggle with helping those who are hurting and upset. It is lovely when that prayer is answered.
Sometimes the greatest treasures are found when we are not looking for anything. Pastor JudyB and I stumbled across the treasure of serving the homeless and hungry in Fort Myers when the City Council threatened that no one could feed people in the park. We went out to join those at Lamb of God, A Lutheran and Episcopal community, doing just that. And out of that, our whole ministry and church has developed. We stumbled across the treasure of God’s people. We were also actively searching for a way to serve and to enact justice and love. We found the way, for us the pearl of great price, in developing the ministry of the church in the park and then the church in the house. We also cast out our nets and hauled in a lot of fish over the years of becoming the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic community. Not everyone stayed with us, some swam away of their own accord and some died as we tried to help them. But look at the haul, look at the people we serve, for us that is the treasure and the pearl of great price. You, our people, are the treasure, our church is the pearl of great price.
So what should we do? Give up everything to keep it to keep the pearl of greatest price to us-yes, indeed! But that is true for ALL of us, each one of us has something to give to God’s people and we may need to give up many other things to give our utmost for God’s finest, God’s people. The last verse in the Gospel reading guides us (Matthew 13:52): we who love and study and teach God’s kin-dom must bring out our treasures, old and new, to serve our guests. We don’t just throw out the old and usher in the new, we bring both old and new treasures from the storeroom of God’s love, law and word, and, following Jesus, set the Table before the people of God, and all are welcome! Amen. Rev. Dr. Judy Lee