Emmitsburg Council of Churches

 

The Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 13:32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." 13:33 He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened." 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. 13:45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 13:46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. 13:47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 13:48 when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 13:49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 13:50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13:51 "Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes." 13:52 And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."

The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you O' Christ.


Have we Recognized the Treasure?

Are we caught in the net of Jesus Kingdom . . . Are we helping to reel in the catch????

When we grasp what Jesus is saying in these verses, then we will want to enter into the INVESTMENT of the Kingdom that Jesus is talking about. There are no castles in this kingdom, neither are there nobleman or noblewomen. There are not kings with elegant robes nor queens with jeweled crowns nor knights in shining armor. But the kingdom is made up of men and women, boys and girls, people from every nation and tribe and skin color and language throughout the world. When we have grasped the VALUE of OUR PLACE IN THIS KINGDOM AMONG SO MANY . . . THEN WE WILL WANT TO GIVE ALL THAT WE HAVE TO SAVOR THE KINGDOM'S WORTH.

None of us can imagine the length and breadth of this kingdom that Jesus speaks of. We cannot fathom its worth or the beauty of such a throng that reaches around the world and across the eons of time from the ancient past on into the eternal future. This is the nature of the kingdom to which Jesus calls us as subjects.

As some of you know, I was away last week at the ELCA's Global Mission Event and was part of a forum focusing on World Hunger.

I must say, there were parts of the event that made me cry with sadness after learning about the plight of so many people around the world. There were other parts of the event that made me well up with tears of Gladness. Isn't that the way some of the most significant events of life can be??

Back in December of 2004, just on the day after Christmas, the terrible Tsunami struck India and many other nations. The loss of life suffered from that unexpected event is one of the most tragic things that has ever happened in the history of humankind. At the Hunger conference I was attending, we listened with rapt attention as Dr. Catherine Wolford, who is the Director of Lutheran World Relief, told us a "first-hand account" story of what happened when the Tsunami hit.

It was about 9:30 a.m. in the morning. The men from up and down the coastline were preparing their nets for fishing that day. So they were up, moving around and alert. The women and children were also up and doing things like getting ready for school or cleaning the house or washing clothing or any one of a million things that we also do every day.

When the violent waves rushed in, everyone was taken by surprise. It came terribly fast. There was no time to react, little time to seek shelter or run for higher ground. Most sadly, more women were killed than men because of the Indian women's beautiful long hair, which became entangled with debris as the women tried to flee or escape from the horrendous wave of water that overtook everything in its path. The story cannot get much sadder than this . . . but we know that every single man, woman and child who lost a loved one has an ongoing pain due to their loss of family members.

But here is the hopeful part of the story. Our church was already there to help the people through the branches of Lutheran World Relief!!! Not the we Lutherans are heroes or the only ones who do good works. But just that, providentially, the LWR teams were already in nearby areas where they could respond very quickly when the disastrous tsunami struck. LWR was able to provide immediate assistance as well as rapid coordination with other church agencies and relief organizations. Even more important to know is that LWR has not left the scene -- even today. A five year plan has been formulated for rebuilding, resettling, and restoring the lives of those who were literally turned upside down by the tsunami. The plan represents an ambitious and faith-filled investment in helping these people to heal and recover what was lost. Hope is perhaps the most important good we can give them.

Perhaps as you and I learned of the tragedy that befell those unnamed thousands, we said a prayer or we gave a contribution to help them. Your prayers were active and present and life giving for those people. Your contributions not only provided immediate aid and provisions for the rescue and recovery efforts, but our affiliation with the people of India and Indonesia has been ongoing through the beauty and wonder of Christ's Church. We, as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, We who operate under the authority of our Lord Jesus whose kingdom is one of LOVE We are united and caught up with our brothers and sisters in these foreign lands, ------- and this is the mystery of the TREASURE of the Kingdom that Jesus is talking about.

The treasure that Jesus Speaks of exists in the simplest of actions on behalf of the poor and needy in the world. The TREASURE Exists in the web of life that we participate in through our prayers and through the most humblest of acts or gifts we bring. The TREASURE of the KINGDOM exists because of GOD"s MIRACULOUS BLESSING . . . . like the other parables that Jesus gives. Little humble things like YEAST working through a batch of flour, these things give huge results!!!!

Every little boy and girl so far away are one with us in the Lord's kingdom. Every fisherman who is now receiving new netting or materials for a new boat in order to go back to their trade as a fisherman you and I are INVESTING in their lives and our Investment is like that PEARL buyer. Like this piece of fishing net that is being passed around the sanctuary this morning. We are connected to our brothers and sisters in every place of the world. We are like one of the most insignificant of filaments that makes up this piece of net . . . as individuals our part of the whole is small, but that's just the point, we are a part of the whole which makes up the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus is talking about. Our participation, by faith, reaches across the expanse of time and space. We invest now for the kingdom that is coming into being . . . the kingdom that our children will live into.

This is not to be misconstrued as a political kingdom . . . but it is the kingdom that stands and rises by our prayers and the intentions of our heart. It is the kingdom that is brought into being by the Will and words of Christ. The kingdom that Jesus has begun is the one that lives on in our hearts and moves us to give and love as Jesus Gave and Loved those who came to him. Jesus says to us:

"Come all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Come all who Hunger and thirst for Righteousness. Come all you who have no money. Come into the Abundance of my Father's House. Come sit at my table. Come with me to a quiet place where we can sit and talk and eat and be refreshed. Come to me, for I have LIVING WATER. The water of LIFE!! Come and enter into the kingdom that I have prepared for you . . . Come!!!" Amen

PRAYER:

Lord Jesus, you have caught us in your net. It was cast out by others who cared enough to throw it out to us. So bring us into the fullness of your reign. Invest in us so that we might bear fruit and bring you the increase as worthy servants. In your name we ask these things.

AMEN

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