SCRIPTURE READING Matthew 13:44 “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.
MESSAGE “What Are You Looking For?” Rev. James R. Renfrew
“Antiques Road Show”. Have you seen that program? People bring in a treasure that they have found for an expert to analyze and put a value upon. People bring in paintings, vases, jewelry, books, and even old toys. You should see their jaws drop when they learn that an object that had been kicking around the house is worth tens of thousands of dollars! People find these treasures in their attic, in the basement, out in the barn, or at a garage sale. A lot of the time, the treasure that is brought in was in plain sight, but no one realized how valuable the item was.
Do you have a treasure in your house that you might want to take into Antique Roadshow? Something that’s been kicking around for years? Something that might be worth thousands of dollars? A Barbie doll from 1959? A hula hoop from 1962? A Monopoly first edition from 1935? A Babe Ruth baseball card from 1929? Maybe the toy Ellieana got for her 10th birthday in fifty years will be worth millions!
Have you ever found a treasure like that around your home? I could be a millionaire today, except when I went off to college, my Mom decided to throw all of my comic books into the trash. She thought they were worthless. Some of those Superman and Spiderman comic books are worth hundreds even thousands of dollars today. I do have one treasure, I think: a Navajo rug that my grandparents bought on a trip out west many decades ago. It’s hanging on our wall, and I like to think that it’s worth thousands of dollars. But I’d be scared to take it into Antiques Roadshow, because the experts would shatter my hopes and dreams, by telling me it’s worthless, only valuable as a floor covering in the chicken coop
But how about my cousin Bill? When he was a kid his sister Sue had a boyfriend who didn’t like having Bill around so one day he said “I’ll give you my baseball cards if you’ll stop bugging us”. Bill took the deal, and today those baseball cards are worth thousands of dollars, with Mickey Mantle rookie cards and more. It leaves me with this critical question: Why didn’t my sisters have boyfriends like that?
Jesus tells a story about a man who found a treasure in a field. I think it was buried, and he might have found it by tripping over it, or digging, or maybe a plow turned it up. What do you think was in the treasure? In those days there were no banks or safe deposit boxes. It was probably a big old pottery jar filled with valuable things: gold and silver, coins, jewels. Can you imagine the look on the man’s face when he realized what he had found? Who would like to demonstrate that look?
You’re a smart bunch of people. As soon as I started talking about gold and jewels in a big treasure chest buried under the lawn, you were already figuring out that the treasure I’m really interested in is of a spiritual, not a material nature. So when I ask you to share a story about the treasure of your life, you’ll quickly mention your spouse, your children, your grandchildren and friends long before you’ll tell me about gold coins, diamond jewelry, Navajo rugs or valuable baseball cards.
The IRS does not ask you to put a cash value on your family when you report your annual income. Caseworkers don’t count friends as assets when making decisions about food stamp eligibility. And you couldn’t present your son or daughter as collateral for a loan. Yet family, friends, and children are the most important treasures that we have!
How often do you think of your relationship with God as a treasure? With so many other treasures competing for our attention, it takes courage to name God as our greatest treasure. People might laugh at you if you claim God as your treasure, because it won’t pay your rent, doctor bills or college tuition.
The treasure tells about is what is irreplaceable, it is what money cannot buy. The difference between the treasures that amount to something and the treasures that amount to nothing is this: A true treasure is one that is shared, one that cannot be bought, sold, taken away or destroyed.
God has shown us the true treasures through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the way that he fed hungry people, in the way that he offered drink to the thirsty, in the way that he gathered sinful people around a table so that he could share with them all that his heart and hand could give. It is a treasure that cannot be bought or stolen, because it is freely given to all who come forward to receive it from his hand. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Prayer: I believe in treasure! I should know, because I am rich! I believe in all of the things too valuable to put a price upon, because I am surrounded by them – like a baby’s smile, like a grandparent’s memories, like a rainbow after a storm, like the sound of a big wave crashing onto the beach, like the stars in the sky, like a perfect flower, like a beautiful sunset, like a favorite song, like holding hands, like an answered prayer, like my heart lifting. These are the treasures of my life. Thank you, God, for surrounding me with riches beyond measure. In Jesus. Amen.