“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)
We have been following a sermon series since the beginning of September as we reflect on who we are as a church. Over the weeks, we have discussed that fact that, in this house, we give grace, we tell the truth, we make mistakes, we say “I’m sorry,” and today we look at the fact that, in this house, we have fun!
Wait a minute. We have fun? This is church, isn’t it? Isn’t church supposed to be boring? Or at least respectful and reverent and refined? And my answer would be, “Yes, it should be respectful and reverent and sometimes even refined, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun, or at least joyous, at the same time.” Friends, the truth is when we choose to live lives of joy, following the call that God has placed within us and trying our best to live out our faith in all that we say and do, we can’t help but share that joy with others.
Today in Household Huddle, we played all kinds of games, all of which reinforced Bible stories. So, was it wrong to have fun? No! Sometimes we learn even more when we are enjoying ourselves. That doesn’t mean that church should be a free-for-all. Of course, there need to be rules and boundaries to remind us how to respect God and those around us. Sometimes, when we are in worship, we sit quietly and listen. Sometimes we stand up and sing. Sometimes we greet the people around us, or we help out by being a part of service, or we go up to ring the bell when service is over.
But one thing that worship is not—worship is not about coming and sitting as an audience and being entertained. No! It’s about gathering as the body of Christ and being inspired to go out and be the church! Being the church is fun, because that’s when we work together for a common cause, finding joy and having fun as we work together. Here in worship, we sing together and pray together. We greet one another, and we welcome new visitors. We joyously share what we have through the offering, and we search for ways to bring our faith out into the world. Friends, many times in the Old Testament, worship included shouting, joyful singing, tambourines, and even dancing. After all, worship is supposed to inspire us and fill us with hope, isn’t it?
Many times, people tend to think of faith as something very serious, and God as something to be reverently feared. But if you think about it, God has quite an imagination and, I would say, quite a sense of humor. After all, God created so many different animals like ostrich and warthogs, octopus and whales, platypus and narwhals, and giraffes with long necks. And just look around the church! God created each of us as unique and special people with individual gifts to share. God also made mountains and valleys, canyons and rivers, and oceans. I can’t believe that all those things were created so that we would simply be respectful, reverent, and refined without having a little bit of fun, too. Actually, I think God rejoices in our joy, and God smiles down on us when we find ways to make our faith fun.
Because our theme today is “In This House: We Have Fun,” I’d like to ask you all two questions. First, if an airplane were to crash on the border between the United States and Canada, where would they bury the survivors? And second, because we talked about George Washington the other day, what color was George Washington’s white horse? The trick to answering these questions really has nothing to do with your knowledge about burial practices or history, but it has everything to do with your ability to listen.
Does anyone have an answer to the first question about the airplane crash and where would they bury the survivors? Correct! We wouldn’t bury survivors, would we? And what color was George Washington’s white horse? It was white, of course. They told us that answer in the question. It is amazing how many people get tricked by riddles like these because they aren’t listening to exactly what is being said. Our minds can play tricks on us, causing us to hear things that were not said or blocking out things that were said.
Throughout scripture, Jesus loved to tell stories. After all, that was often how he taught the crowds. He often spoke in parables, which are spiritual stories that are sometimes hard to understand. Actually, they can sometimes be more like riddles than stories, because you can understand them on different levels. Some people have a hard time understanding them at all.
In the bible, Jesus tells over seventy parables. There is the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Weeds, the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Yeast, the Parable of the Great Pearl, and today we heard the Parable of the Hidden Treasure. Let’s listen to it one more time…“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.”
What? Now that’s a riddle if I’ve ever heard one! So let’s break it down a little. First of all, the passage is describing what the kingdom of heaven is like. It says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a 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.”
Remember, it’s like a riddle or a puzzle that causes us to think, and it can have many different outcomes. With parables, there is never one simple answer. Some scholars believe that the person in the story is Jesus, and the field is all of us, and because Jesus knows that we each have gifts and treasures to share, he gave his life, all that he had, for our salvation. Other scholars, when reading this parable, hear the reminiscent words of Jesus that say “You must go out and sell everything you own and follow me.”
It sounds to me like the parable is talking about something worth sacrificing everything in order to possess. Maybe Jesus is simply talking about our priority of values and what is truly important to us. Remembering that the parable is talking about “the kingdom of heaven” or “the kingdom of God,” what would you value the most in the “kingdom of God”? Obviously not everyone is going to come up with the same answer. For some, it might be present security. For others, maybe it’s an assurance of eternal life. Or perhaps it’s grace, or unconditional love, or abundant hope.
I don’t know about you, but the idea of joy is what jumped out at me. When we live lives of joy, we have fun in all that we do, whether we are slicing turkey for a turkey supper or working at a yard sale, sharing coffeetime with friends or crafting for the fair, practicing the chimes for worship or playing games during household huddle, singing our favorite hymn or sitting around a table at a ministry meeting, our journey is filled with joy!
Folks, there are many scriptures in the Bible that talk about the fact that money can control our lives and steal our joy. Please understand that the Bible is not saying that money is bad. It simply means that the fear of losing our money takes away moments of joy in our lives. So, in today’s parable ,maybe Jesus was saying, “Don’t serve money. It will control your life and steal your joy. Instead, use money to serve your joy, just like the man in today’s parable.”
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go out into your busy week ahead, think about what is most important to you and what brings you the most joy in life. Perhaps it’s your family, or this church. Maybe it’s a charity, or a need that you have seen somewhere in the world. Don’t be afraid to share your time, your talent, and your treasures with it, because a joy that is shared is a joy made double!
My friends, may it be so. Thanks be to God, Amen!