Peter A Luckey “Finding the Treasure inside You”

preached to KCUCC on July 26, 2020

 

Gospel Text:  Matthew 13:44-46

44The 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. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Did you ever go on a treasure hunt?  You divide into teams. You are given clues. You go on a mad scramble with your first clue looking for the next.

Off you go, laughing, running, all jazzed up because even though the treasure is going to be a few measly fake coins and costume jewelry what you love is the quest, the search.

 

Our 7-year-old granddaughter will be here on Thursday. More than anything she will want her Mimi to prepare a treasure hunt.

 

We all love the search.

 

How many of you fell in love with Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, encountering characters like Long John Silver?

Or have seen Harrison Ford in Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark?

Or been with Monty Python on a quest for the Holy Grail?

How many of you are antique fanatics? What you love is the search.

Or avid fishermen (women)? What you love about fishing is the quest, searching for that one big fish.

How sad it would be if we reach the point in life where we decide there is nothing worth going after, no treasure out there that is worth the pursuit. Or listen to the message we have told ourselves: “don’t go whole hog. Prepare to be disappointed. Disillusioned. Play it safe. Temper your passions.”

Let’s be clear: if that’s the message in our heads, that is not the message of the gospel.

 

The gospel says: Go for it. Go all in. Go whole hog. Buy the field. Go after the pearl of great price. Spend your last dime.

“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.” Matthew 13:44.

Just make sure the treasure you seek is me. To paraphrase St. Augustine: “My love for you, my love for you pouring out even now, the words, you are my beloved. If you make me your treasure, all else will fall into place.”

Seek God above all else.

Seek and ye shall find.                              

St. Augustine has said, “if we get the desire for God right all else follows”

Love and do what you will.

This is what the mystics have been teaching us all along.

The mystics are those amazing folks down through the ages, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sufi, and others who have experienced the Great Spirit to be a real presence in their lives.

Often institutional religion banned them, ostracized them because their personal relationship with God was a threat to the organized structures who felt themselves to oversee mediating people’s experience with the Holy.

The mystics teach us that the most important treasure of all is right here in our own backyard, in fact, its right here inside of you.

The author and teacher Richard Rohr say, “we can let God’s love and life flow through us if only we allow it.”

It’s what the Psalmist, so in love with God, wrote in Psalm 27.  Listen to the writer express the mutuality between her and God.

Thou hast said, “Seek ye my face”

My heart says to thee,

Thy Face, Lord, do I seek

Why is this message so important to us today?

Why?

With the world around us shouting ever louder a chorus of NO, we are in danger of losing our deeper YES.

 

When we are besieged with so many distractions, we are apt to lose sight of the treasure that can be found right here in our own hearts.

Look, our country is in a bad way. In all my years of living here, having been through all we have been through: The Vietnam War, the tumult of the sixties, riots, 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I don’t know if I have ever felt the despair that I feel today.

Over 4 million affected with the coronavirus, close to 150K have perished from it, and there seems to be no end in sight. And unidentified paramilitary troops are fomenting violence on our city streets.

The only words I come up with to describe this time is this is a dark time. The acrimony, the hostility, the negativity.

I turn to a mystic who lived in a dark time. A Jewish mystic from Holland. A woman named Etty Hillesum who spoke during her own very dark time.

She lived under Nazi Occupation during the second world war in Holland. She was seized by the Germans, taken to a concentration camp, and then later transported to Auschwitz, where she died. I’ve shared these words with you before, but they’re worth hearing again because when I think about how she resisted the forces of despair in her time, she can give guidance to us today. She kept a diary of her experience in the concentration camp. Her diary has been published in a book titled “An Interrupted Life.” 

 

“I believe that I know and share the many sorrows and sad circumstances that a human being can experience, but I do not cling to them. I do not prolong such moments of agony. They pass through me like life itself, as a broad eternal stream. They become part of that stream, and life continues.”

Henri Nouwen, the late Jesuit priest, author, professor, reflecting on Etty Hillesum’s words, adds his own, “There is the unceasing affirmation that underneath all the ups and downs of life there flows a solid current of joy.”  (Life signs, p. 102)

Matthew 13:44 says, “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 he had and buys that field.” Yes, those three words, IN HIS JOY. It’s finding that deeper YES…. In his joy.

I find that same spirit in the words of Dag Hammarskjold, “For all that is past Thank You; For all that is to come, Yes.”

Now, look: There is a danger my thoughts will be received as Pollyannaish, bromides as “Cheer Up” “it’s not so bad” “things will get better” come across as naïve, and when leaders espouse such words, they can be perceived as being “out of touch” and insensitive to the pain and suffering all around them.

 

No, I am talking about fully acknowledging the darkness around us. We are in a bad place, in this country. I’ve never experienced this before in my lifetime.

I am not suggesting we renounce the world, only that we turn away from it from time to time so that we can re-engage at a deeper level.

 

Perhaps it’s the little things we can do.

  • plant seeds,

  • take care of each other,

  • go out of our way to visit with our neighbors,

  • check on them,

  • march and take to the streets if we can,

  • do what we can from where we are. We do what must be done.

 

Life is all about choice. What you choose to let live in your head. How you want to see reality.

 

I choose to believe there exists a God, call it the Great Spirit, Allah, the Spirit that was so much in Jesus, or the humming of the universe.

 

It is love and life that can and does flow through us if we allow it. It’s compassion, gentleness, forbearance, kindness, all those attributes Paul talked about.

 

Perhaps you have had a eureka moment. A moment when you were consumed with your own repetitive gloomy thoughts, complaining, comparing, etc.

An endlessly circular feedback loop. And then you had this “aha” moment. You realize you could put an end to the negativity. You could stop it now.

 

It was as if you have found your own buried treasure.

All you had to do was claim it. Seize it. Choose it.

 

God’s love and life flow through us if we allow it.

 

In these dark times, that is the most important treasure of all. Worth giving it our all.

 

Amen.