Proper 12A; Gospel passage: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
It’s been a week y’all.
It’s been a roller coaster ride for many of us, and for our brothers and sisters out there in the world.
It seems the “will we, won’t we” drama of the health care vote will never end. With it comes the real fear in some that they will have to chose between staying alive and staying housed, or fed. Thousands of people who love this country we live in were told their service to it was less than others, that they would be tossed out of the military they gave their lives to not because they couldn’t do their jobs, but because of who they were.
Which might have all been easier to take if it weren’t that so many of us have been in danger and afraid for so dang long. It’s exhausting.
In a group I am part of a young woman who fled for her life from Syria recounted how, out shopping, she stumbled across a perfume that her friends used to wear back home in Syria. She hasn’t been able to stop crying wondering if any of them are still alive. Clergy friends in Texas descended on the capital there to try to protect parishioners and others afraid for their safety and dignity when they try to use the bathroom.
I start to understand why Jesus went off by himself to pray so often. It’s enough to wear us down, it’s enough to make you wonder if maybe humanity isn’t even worth saving.
Jesus reaches out and takes the hand of a transgender soldier and says quietly: a woman stumbled upon a treasure in a field, and with joy she ran, sold everything she had and bought that field.
Jesus wraps his arms around a person with a preexisting condition who is filled with fear, and says to those listening: a woman took and mixed yeast with flour until all of it was leavened.
This, he said, is what the Kingdom of heaven is like.
For years and years we’ve heard that this story is about us finding the treasure of Jesus, or God. We’ve been told we have to give up everything we are and have for that treasure. We’ve been told it’s about mixing the gospel into our lives, and maybe some of that’s true. But not this week beloveds. This week Jesus keeps sighing and shaking his head and wrapping his arms around someone else and saying it again very, very slowly: the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who deals in pearls all day long, one day he finds one of such beauty that he sells everything to buy it.
And maybe we still don’t get it, and maybe that’s OK because maybe the person he’s talking to, the only person he’s talking to, is the one wrapped in his protective embrace.
He leans in to the soldier’s ear and he whispers: you are my treasure.
He hugs the refugee and says in her ear “you are God’s pearl.”
He looks into the eyes of the transgender youth and says “you are the yeast I am mixing into the world.”
“This is what the kingdom of heaven looks like.”
God has each precious human being cupped in her hands and is crying out with tears in her eyes: see my treasure, won’t you see my beloved treasure! That’s what the kingdom of God is like. God has been seeking you out your whole life wanting to tell you how loved you are, how beautiful you are, how absolutely worthy you are. God has been trying like mad to kneed your own particular yeast into the world like glitter that gets into everything and never goes away.
Every person in this world, regardless of gender, or race, or religion, or income, or sexual orientation, or sexual identity, or weight, or height, or health is God’s beloved. Every. Single. One.
Every one of us is God’s treasure just as we are. And God asks really only one thing, that we treat one another that way. That we treat one another as the precious jewels that we are. There is room for one thing only in the kingdom of God, love. For God, for ourselves, for others. There is no room for hatred, there is no room for self hatred, there is no room for shame, or fear.
In the whole of the universe, which is infinite and getting bigger, God found a treasure and ran, and purchased it to keep it safe forever. You and you and you and the person you cannot possibly imagine that God loves.
There is of course another side to all this. There are those who cannot see the kingdom, those who harm and hate. Those who bring fear, who desperately try to root out the yeast God is mixing into the world. And so God’s treasures go on suffering. In poverty, in fear, in persecution. Fathers and mothers, long time members of our communities are deported for the crime of lacking paperwork. LGBTQ youth commit suicide at higher rates than any other group. Those with mental illness hide their disease out of fear and shame. Those with abilities different than the norm are excluded. Those with skin that is dark are arrested, incarcerated, and expelled from school at higher rates than anyone else. And on it goes. And the one thing God hates, is that.
A wise friend reminded me of a quote from St. Augustine this week “the sorrows of others must move our love.” Maybe you weren’t afraid this week, maybe you weren’t wounded. Maybe we haven’t followed the news because none of it really effects us. Well, the sisters and brothers your God loves with every fiber of God’s being are being hurt, their sorrow cries out to God and to us. And we must be moved.
God is calling, holding hurting treasure in God’s own hands. God calls our love to be moved to action by the sorrows of others, for they too are God’s beloved.
If you are hurting this week, for any reason. Know that you are not a burden. You are not a mistake. You are God’s treasure, and you are loved beyond measure.
If you are not hurting this week, put on your work gloves, tighten up your belt, and get to work building the Kingdom that Jesus tells us looks like a tiny seed of hope, growing into a great sheltering tree where all of those God loves may take shelter from the evil of the world.