Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Year A

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

The Rev. Denise Vaughn

Choose to Discover God’s Way

Years ago, I inherited some antique cast iron figurines of a family from my father’s family.  Through the years, when my grandchildren have come to visit the very first thing they do after walking in the door is to start playing with them. During one of their visits I remember the youngest telling me she needed to hide the girl figurine because she only wanted to play with the boy, the mother, and the father. I didn’t think anything of it until I was putting my house back together after they returned home and I couldn’t for the life of me find that girl figurine. I looked everywhere I could think to look. I even called my daughter and asked her to go through the girl’s bags of clothes and toys to see if they had hidden her in their things. No, so I knew she had to be hidden somewhere in my house. Finally after a week of searching, as I was sitting in my recliner one evening, it dawned on me that the only place I had not checked was down the sides of the chair. Well, low and behold there she was just waiting to be found.

In our gospel today which continues Jesus’ teaching through parables on the Kingdom of Heaven or Kingdom of God, Jesus zings us in a sense with several metaphors or comparisons that come at us so quickly there is little time to think much about any one of them. Jesus says, the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, like yeast, like buried treasure, like a fine pearl, like a net cast into the sea. It’s a lot to digest, but the striking thing about all of these images is their essential hiddenness…the mustard seed hidden in the ground, the yeast hidden in the dough, the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl hidden among all the other pearls, the net hidden in the depths of the sea. This can lead us to believe that if the kingdom of God is such as these, then it is not something always apparent to the naked eye. It must be searched for, something just below the surface waiting there to be discovered and claimed.

But when discovered and no longer hidden, whether it begins as a seed hidden in the ground, or a treasure hidden in a field, the kingdom comes. It is brought forth for everyone to see. It is revealed, found, claimed and enjoyed amid great celebration. In parables, Jesus proclaims what has always been present the Kingdom of God, yet continues to be perceived as hidden. The parables open what is in hidden in plain sight. They invite us to see the world from a different angle. God-transforming moments can be hidden in the simplest of deeds and hidden in the ordinary details of daily life is the truth that we are rooted and grounded in a love that has been with us and for us from the very foundation of creation. If only we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear…

With all the daily distractions of our lives we sometimes miss the truth that is hidden in plain sight. Yet, when we seek what is hidden just beneath the surface of our lives what we find is the light of God within us. It is the seed sowing kind of light that brings forth the joy of discipleship. It is a joy that is revealed by those who take what is hidden and make it known to the world. We have many examples of people going about the work of the kingdom of God, or as our Presiding Bishop likes to call it, the Jesus Movement. According to Matthew, the very first thing Jesus does when he comes out of his 40 days in the wilderness is to proclaim, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” He then demonstrated this nearness every time he healed someone, or reached out to outcasts, when he showed respect to women, or cared for the poor.  He demonstrates this nearness through these kingdom parables which challenge us to consider the nature of discipleship. To consider what it means to be a Christ follower.

The church’s work in every age is to form disciples who value what it means that God’s kingdom is as close as the next mustard bush or loaf of bread. That God is in every nook and cranny of daily life, from kneading dough to plowing fields and it is our work to help others see the kingdom that is close at hand. Jesus did not use the ‘seven wonders of the world’ to envision God’s kingdom. He used a mustard plant whose seed is a symbol of the tiniest thing that grows to provide shelter and nurture and he likens this to God’s activity in the world. If God can use mustard seed and leaven to grow the kingdom, imagine what God can do with us. The kingdom of God is like that, say’s Jesus. From the smallest ounce of faith with lives filled with wheat and weeds, God can use us. We can be agents of great growth in God’s kingdom if we choose daily to walk that path with Jesus.

The parables remind us of our responsibility to choose God’s way and when we do, it is worth the price. The kingdom, or God’s way, is worth the price of the great pearl or the hidden treasure not made of silver or gold but of bushes and bread, of weeds and wheat. The treasure that shimmers through Jesus, a Savior who seeks us out, reaching down into our lives, calling us his treasure and giving us everlasting salvation. God gives us all we need in the Kingdom of God; Jesus gives us all we need. He gives us his body through the bread of Holy Communion. He gives us his blood in the wine. As we partake of this special treasure hidden in the every day elements of bread and wine, Jesus gives himself to us fully so we may know the forgiveness of our sins and so that we may know the completeness of his love. We are God’s treasure and God gives God’s self to us so that we may be God’s own, the body that grows God’s kingdom.

So, come to this table and discover the treasure of redemption. Come be found by the one who loves you. Then go look at the world around you through my eyes says Jesus. Find new parables. Find what produces the abundance of a mustard seed? Find the leaven? Tell new stories to speak timeless truths. Open your hearts to reveal God and give your all to discover the treasures awaiting us in the God movement. Those who have ears to hear listen and understand the Kingdom of God is close at hand just waiting to be revealed.