What is the perceived value of the Kingdom of Heaven?
“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.”
Matthew 13:44 (NRSV)
I’ve always been intrigued by this description of the kingdom of heaven. Most often heaven is depicted as a cloudy kingdom with light flowing everywhere, or heaven takes on a character of abundance with every opulent, decadent spice of life thrown around like confetti.
Rarely is heaven pictured as a desolate field.
But it’s not the field itself, it’s what is in the field that matters.
And I wonder how often we miss heaven because the land value doesn’t seem high enough?
After last week’s Deep Thoughts highlighting all of the young people’s ministries going on, Wendy McConney sent me a great e-mail with a list of “what ifs.”
- What if you weekly made dinner for an older gentleman who lost his wife and was living alone?
- What if you visited someone whose family lived out of state, knowing they wouldn’t remember you were there an hour after you left?
- What if you drove someone to church every Sunday who otherwise could not go because she is legally blind?
- What if you went to visit an elderly member who is shut in and has to depend on family and friends to take her places?
- What if you looked after an elderly member’s pet while they were in the hospital?
It ended with the words, “Because these are all things our members have done.”
What I know from Wendy’s job focus is that these were all done by those who would be deemed “senior adults.” Her point in sending it to me was to show me how many amazing things were going on right under our noses, but the other point she may not have intended was to highlight treasure in a field that is often missed. Our society values shiny – and VBS and Big Stuff are shiny. Our culture values youth – and kids and youth carry a heavy value. Our culture often looks at senior adults as either money-making schemes or has-beens. They can be a treasure that is walked by, when right under our noses heaven is at work.
While this parable is an encouragement to invest all we have in the principles and practices of heaven here on Earth, it’s also a recognition that heaven exists in far more ordinary places than extravagant. It exists when Linda Mints and Helen Huemiller come every week to put together the children’s worship binders so kids know they belong in worship. It exists in a member that wishes to remain anonymous who texts me every single week on Monday morning to tell me that he is praying for me and my leadership of the church. It exists in Pete Heres who was up at church an hour before Traditional Worship unloading flowers to beautify the grounds.
And it exists in every person who brings the snacks to the soccer game, volunteers their time to help kids know when to go on stage, or plays Bingo at an assisted living facility. Because those acts of generosity are the treasure that lay in the fields of heaven, and what are so valuable that we must invest all we have in them – even if they don’t look that shiny on the outside.
I pray you’ll see heaven today, and even more, I pray you’ll make sure to look where you least expect it.
PS – I wanted to update you that my family and I will be taking one of our epic summer road trips starting June 27 and coming back on the 15th of July. I will admit to you that after the last 2 years of COVID, USA and UMC politics, re-launching the church, trying my best to reach out to people we haven’t seen and welcome all the new ones, leading the staff, and all the pastoral care and counseling that have come from those things and life in general, I have a weary soul that needs rest. Originally I had been granted approval by SPR to take a sabbatical that is allowed by the UMC Book of Discipline and would be a longer time frame, but logistically for my family and the church that wasn’t feasible at this time.
While I will be back at work and back in worship on July 17, I will be taking some rest from preaching from June 26 to July 24. The first part of this time will be centered on connecting with my family and exploring the National Parks of the Midwest and Great Lakes area, and when I return I plan to dig in on making sure that our church, its members, and its staff are coordinated, inspired, and ready to go full-tilt into ministry come August when our new ministry year begins. I am grateful for an incredibly supportive SPR and church family, as well as lay leadership and a staff that works just as hard if not harder than I do. I’m thankful that we have a team of very capable preachers to teach and inspire, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to recharge my batteries a little bit. It is true this is a very important moment in our church’s life, and as we re-vision for the future and make the necessary adaptations to follow God’s calling faithfully there may be some discomfort or re-orientation. This is why I know I need to retreat as Jesus did, to make sure that my leadership can be clear and Christ-centered.
I look forward to the great ministry ahead of us in June and July and I know that you will be incredibly inspired by worship and ministry during those months. As I’ve been asking you to consider, please think about making your giving on a recurring schedule – whether that be through your own bank, an automatic withdrawal, or through our credit card system via the link below. During the summer months, it helps to maintain consistency, as the ministry of Jesus Christ is needed every day of the year.