What a week! Lots of trying to get ahead before a holiday & two weddings plus another to attend (all lovely, don't get me wrong - and atypical British Sunshine!) - left me very last minute this week, The resulting sermon seems very short as I ad-libbed around it quite a bit - but here it is!
The parable of the pearl/ the wisdom of Solomon
Once there was a young girl, walking through a field of long, green grass. The grass tickled her legs, the sun was warm on her back, she could hear birds singing in the bushes nearby, on which there hung ripe luscious blackberries. As she got nearer to the blackberry bushes, she saw a little old man, trying to reach the blackest and most delicious-looking blackberries, which were just out of his grasp. The girl was young, but she was tall, and so she was able to reach up and pull the branch down so that the old man could reach the ripe, luscious blackberries. He picked all he wanted and dropped them into his small basket. Then he turned to the young girl; ‘Thank you for your help and your kindness. What you didn’t realise is that I am a wizard and I can make the wishes of others come true. I will grant you any wish you have, to thank you properly for your kind help’.
What should the girl wish for?
Let us assume that it is not possible to ask for another 100 wishes!
Just for a moment, place yourself in her shoes: what would you ask for?
Great wealth? A healthy life to the age of 100 and a peaceful end? Happiness?
On Friday I looked at a teen website on the internet. Asked the question – ‘do you want a serious relationship or do you just want to have fun?’ our fun-loving, 21st century teens all replied ‘I want a serious relationship’.
We all want to be loved and to be happy. Everything else is just a distraction.
So Solomon, faced with a choice of ‘free gift’ by God, chooses wisdom, discernment, knowledge. He is a king and so he knows that the key to happiness for him is the ability to rule wisely.
This is a great choice – because God is so pleased with Solomon’s choice that he gives him the wisdom he has asked for and also great wealth and long life!
The right choice for Solomon, to be able to do his duties well and so to be happy and to be loved.
Of all the parables Jesus tells, I find the one of the merchant and the pearl the most baffling, initially.
The merchant presumably makes his living by buying and selling pearls. One day he finds a pearl so amazing, so perfect that he sells everything he has to possess this one, great, pearl. This can’t be good business – surely he’s going to lose on this deal – even if he later sells this pearl for a great deal of money, it’s going to cost him a lot to buy back all his other goods. But it seems there’s something going on here that goes beyond good business sense. This pearl is so amazing the merchant loses his head over it. He is captivated by the beauty of this pearl and his only happiness lies in possessing it, even if it costs him everything.
This says Jesus, is what the kingdom of God is like.
It is the one real choice for us; it is the greatest treasure we can know, it is the chance for true happiness, as we allow the love of God to possess us utterly.
Nothing else matters – only knowing God – everything else is a distraction.
In this lies happiness, love, everything we can desire.
All we have to do is accept the invitation and all the joy of heaven can be ours. Thanks be to God. Amen.