PROPER #12…Series A
Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church (July 29th&30th- 2017)
Title: The SEARCH!!
Text: Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52
Lustrous…shimmering…radiant with an energy all its own. A gem so magnificent; so flawless; so perfect that only an experienced gemologist could fully appreciate it’s true and enduring value. “YES…YES…this is what I have been searching for all my life…I MUST have It”. Immediately the merchant goes and sells everything he has…liquidates all of his financial assets to acquire the capital necessary to purchase the PEARL OF GREAT PRICE.
THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE…That is the traditional title attached to Jesus’ parable…the 4th of the five Parables of the Kingdom which are our Gospel reading for this eighth Sunday after the Great Feast of Pentecost. And the traditional interpretation of the parable (the way the parable is usually preached and heard and understood) goes something like this: the Pearl of Great Price is the Kingdom of God (or the Kingdom of Heaven) and it is of such enormous value…such surpassing value that those who would possess it (and enter into it) must surrender everything (even life itself) in order to possess it…
But, clearly, that is not what Jesus says the parable is about, is it? If you listened carefully to the parable, you heard Jesus say something quite different…what you heard Jesus say is that the Kingdom of Heaven is “like a merchant in SEARCH of fine pearls”.
So, let’s assume, for the sake of argument that the title of the parable is NOT The Pearl of Great Price…let’s assume the title of the parable is THE SEARCH, and let’s assume the meaning of the parable is exactly what Jesus said…the Kingdom of heaven is! Like a merchant in search of fine pearls…what does the parable have to teach us about life and about faith and about the Kingdom of God? Many things…but let me suggest one thing…one supremely significant gem of wisdom…one kernel of Gospel truth that the Parable of the Search teaches us….the Parable of the Search teaches that the search for the Kingdom (like all the great searches of our lives…like the search for truth or the search for happiness or the search for fulfillment, or the search for the meaning of life itself) the search for the Kingdom is a journey…a life-long journey of discovering the surprising truth that the object of our search…thing we are searching for is already within us! That’s right…you heard me correctly…The object of our search…the Kingdom of God…the very thing we are searching for is ALREADY WITHIN US!
One day a group of Pharisees (the religious “know it all’s” of Jesus’ day) approached Jess with a provocative theological question… (it’s a question that I’m sure most of
us have asked at one time or another)”When will the Kingdom finally Come…when will the Kingdom of God come in all it’s power and majesty and magnificence…when will the Kingdom of God exist here on earth as it exists in heaven?”, they asked. And Jesus’ response must have surprised and disappointed these fastidious Pharisees…Jesus said, ““The Kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed…the Kingdom is not a visible/tangible reality…something we can taste and touch and feel…something that can be weighed and measured…people won’t say, ‘Look…here it is, or ‘Look…there it is’. No, the truth is that the Kingdom of God is an internal spiritual reality…the truth is that the Kingdom of God is within you within you!
The problem we face today (as Jesus’ 21st century disciples and as a Church) is not that we don’t believe in the Kingdom, or that we don’t believe that the Kingdom is coming…the problem…our problem is that so many of us, and for a variety of reasons, have stopped searching for the Kingdom. Some have given up the search because they have been hurt by the church…wounded deeply often by the failure of some religious leader to live up to his/her high calling Some have stopped searching because they got discouraged or tired or bored. Some stop searching because they believe they have found what they are looking for, so there is no longer any need to continue the search! Friends, the Parable of the Search teaches those of us who are listening that the Truth about the Kingdom and the Love of the Kingdom and the desire to Enter the Kingdom comes as a direct result…a byproduct of a life-long search for the Kingdom of God. Stop searching (for whatever reason) and for you it will be as if the Kingdom doesn’t exist at all!
So…is there any Good News…and Gospel in the Parable of the Search? Yes…ABSOLUTELY! The Good News is that the object of our search is present within us to give us the energy and the encouragement and the desire to keep on searching…to keep on seeking. And for those who persist…those who keep on keeping on…Jesus has several wonderful and a life-giving; life-transforming promises…in the Gospel’s Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you as well”…in the Gospels he said, “Seek (and keep on seeking) and, like the merchant in the parable, you will find what you are searching for…Jesus said we shouldn’t be afraid…we shouldn’t live in fear…WHY…because it is God’s good pleasure…God’s absolute delight to give you the Kingdom! AMEN!!