Good Morning! Welcome to this mornings service.
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Our virtual worship leader is Jim Hewitt and the Message is from Martin Weir.
God Bless x
Message - Martin Weir
What do we value most?
Good morning; it’s good to share with you again in worship, albeit from our spare room!
Today I want to start with a question that you can continue to ponder after this service finishes: ‘What do we value or treasure most in our lives?’
Now, I guess that the answer to this question depends on our personal life experiences and the circumstances that we have encountered over time.
I imagine that for many of us the experience of the last 4 months has made us realise how much we take for granted, and circumstances have focussed our minds on what really matters/what we value. Maybe staying safe & healthy, appreciating contact with families and friends, enjoying the fresh air and resources on our doorstep, finding news ways to worship and to be God’s people.
‘What do we value’ is a theme that underpins both of today’s readings.
The context of the Old Testament reading is that Solomon had just succeeded his father David as King of Israel; around BC970. Just after he had established his powerbase, God appears to Solomon in a dream and asks him to say what he would like God to give him.
Now, how would you answer such a question? I can think of a few things that would be at the top of my list!
Solomon, in his humility, asks God to give him wisdom and discernment, so that he might govern wisely and distinguish between right and wrong. God is impressed that Solomon’s answer is not selfish, and he grants him his wish. If only we could have the humility to ask for such discernment today!
We then heard four short punchy stories where Jesus taught his followers about the values of the kingdom of heaven, drawing on familiar images of their times – seed, yeast, treasure and pearls.
Through these stories Jesus brings to life the attractiveness and beauty of the kingdom. He encourages them and us to strive to be part of the kingdom. Here are two ideas about why the kingdom of heaven should be valued.
1. The heart of the kingdom of heaven is treasure
Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, or like a pearl of great value, and that someone will give everything they have to acquire them. This treasure is a priceless, worth more than anything else; just like Solomon recognised the value of having wisdom.
And having appreciated the value of the treasure there is then the desire to own it. These are not stories about desire for material possessions rather they are about the desire for the treasure itself. In this case the treasure is the good news of God’s love to be revealed through the life of Jesus; a love that offers life to all, and that sets us free to be the sort of people God wants us to be. This is the treasure to be valued and owned.
2. Small is beautiful in the kingdom of heaven
It is tempting to think that big is beautiful (& the bigger the better).
Yet the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast suggest that in the kingdom of heaven small is beautiful, and that those small things have great potential to grow. Like the mustard seed that grows into a tree. Or like the yeast that when added to flour turns it into bread. I suspect that many of us have appreciated the value of yeast while scanning food shops in recent weeks, for it has been a thing of great rarity.
Jesus was very much speaking to the situation that his followers lived in - a minority movement facing hostility. So he seeks to inspire them, by picturing the kingdom as starting small, but with the great potential.
In our times it’s been interesting to hear that because of COVID-19 more people are choosing to connect with worship as the church has moved online, making itself more accessible, and more open to addressing people’s concerns and neds. Not long ago we wondered how we might connect with a largely secular world, and now here perhaps is some wisdom?
Jesus is saying that small things are valued because, as with the mustard seed there is the potential to grow into a tree that becomes a place of protection, nurture and new life. So, we have the potential to connect to our world and to try to make it more like what God wants it to be; or, in other words, to bring the kingdom of heaven closer to all.
So what do we value most?
In a few moments we’ll be able to sing Caryl Micklem’s thoughtful hymn ‘Give to me Lord a thankful heart and a discerning mind’.
Caryl Micklem was a URC minister and hymn writer who crafted his words carefully. In echoes of Solomon we are invited, through this hymn, to ask God to bless us with wisdom, purpose and energy to do our small part to help make the world God’s kingdom.
May this be our prayer today.