The Pearl of Great Price

We’ve all heard people say, ‘I’d give anything for… good health, a better job, no financial worries, whatever. They are searching for their hidden treasure, their pearl of great price. As we gather for the Eucharist today after months of lock down, each of us has, I hope, in some way been able to rethink some aspects of our lives, our priorities, what truly matters, our pearls of great price. It has been a tortuous journey for all of us. Some of us have lost loved ones, some of us have nursed sick family members, some of us have been on the NHS frontline, some of us have lost jobs, some of us have had to deal with the psychological effects of isolation and loneliness. Yet, through this terrible journey many of us have come to appreciate the little things, that truly matter, the true pearls of great price and in glimpsing them we have glimpsed the true meaning of the Kingdom of Heaven. Having glimpsed this, will we continue with this path? Or as a society will we return to our former lives before lockdown and forget, forget those precious pearls we have been given, albeit in time of terrible crisis?

Think on this for a moment. We are God’s hidden treasure, God’s pearls of great price. When God found us God bought us, not with gold or silver but with the precious blood of Jesus. He saw those little things and what he saw was very good. God is a very frugal God and does not waste one iota of our life experience, even in this crisis. Each moment we live and breathe on this earth, God values and savours who we are and what we are doing. He delights in it.

Has God brought all possible goodness out of our struggle? Probably not, at least not yet. Our world and our very lives are, for God, a work in progress. God is not finished with us yet. We might not yet see with perfect vision the beautiful things God is doing. Yet let us just wait a while — and praise God, as great things are happening by the hand of the living God! All we need are spiritual eyes to see them.

Significantly, Jesus tells us, ‘the kingdom of God is within you.’ (Luke 17.20). The kingdom of God is in each of us; all we need to do is to look within our daily lives and activities to find and experience it. What price or more importantly, value do we put on the Kingdom of God in our daily lives? Do we do all we can to engage with it and do all we can to promote it?  Are we prepared to sacrifice other things in order to realise it when we see its beauty? This is described beautifully in the lovely poem ‘Bright Field’ by the Welsh poet R.S. Thomas; ‘I have seen the sun break through to illumine a small field for a while, and gone my way and forgotten it. But that was the pearl of great price, the one field that had the treasure in it. I realise now that I must give all that I have to possess it.’

Unlike those in the gospel, the Kingdom of God will not ‘cost’ us anything, well not money anyway. But it will cost us something else. It will cost us our personal faith and commitment, on a daily basis. Like the mustard seed, the Kingdom of God is sown within us. It is a buried and hidden treasure. It is up to us, with God’s help to find and nourish it. We are being invited to look for and dig up this treasure and bring it out into the light of our own lives and the lives of others today. And here is the challenge of finding the hidden treasure; the Kingdom of God; once we find it, we are called to share it with others, not keep it to ourselves. As we share our treasure with others, it doesn’t diminish or become smaller in any way; miraculously it grows and becomes even bigger! That’s what God’s love does!

This coming week, look for and marvel in those pearls of God’s Kingdom within yourself and in those around you – let us not forget the lessons of the kingdom we have learned in the past few months… it is there, just waiting to be discovered, even in this present crisis. Safeguard and rejoice in the pearls of great price we have discovered during this time and give thanks for them.