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Monday, May 2, 2016

Today’s Reading | Matthew 13:44–53         

“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. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 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.”

When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place. (NRSV)

Although it provided no measure of reassurance at finals time, while staring at questions of theological complexity, one of my college professors nonetheless sought to remind our class that all our theology studies really pointed to but one thing: “God loves you.” If that is all we took away from what we learned, we would have learned well and sufficiently. And yet the professor still encouraged us to dig deeply into the texts and concepts before us. In doing so, we added flesh, color, dimension to what it means for God to love us, how God loves us, how we live as ones loved by God.

In this string of parables that make up the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, Jesus draws picture after picture of the kingdom of heaven, each with different images, different emphases. How are we to resolve the differences? Is the kingdom the hidden treasure that we happen upon or is it a fine pearl we find when we intentionally search? Or can it not be both: something we keep as our centering focus and to which we are open to encountering in ways and at times least expected?

It is the treasure of what is new and what is old—the stories that take us back to a creating God, continue in a God journeying with God’s people through the desert, bring us to God incarnate with us, a Messiah who will come again—that, put together, daily give dimension to the kingdom of heaven, to the love of God we are called to receive, to embrace, to live.

God of love, be with me in my searching. Open me to discovery. And keep ever before me, ever at the center of my life, that pearl of great value, your kingdom come. Amen.

Written by Ann Rehfeldt, Director of Communications

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