Monday, October 04, 2010

Treasure in a Field

A first attempt at a sermon in verse, delivered in Hobart 3 October 2010


"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 17:44-46

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden. Genesis 2:9

He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:24

When the world was new the field was a lush garden

before the precedent setting wretchedness

when the soul of man unravelled

and the garden became a field

full with furrow, sweat and plough

Before the guardian with flaming sword

the field was a garden set wide with

Fruit laden trees tended by the Giver of Life Himself

who walked there in the cool of the day.

And at the centre,

splendid of position

roots hung deep in Eden loam

The treasure itself spread vast and

branching skyward with exuberant joy

leafy in unmatched abundance,

heavy with the fruit of fellowship

tasting of God himself.

The Tree of Life

Life without end

Key to the Kingdom

17 years ago in the dark of a still night

reluctant Marion and I

walked 2 hours in

along the Ida Bay railway line past the overgrown settlement

where only the grave stones stand

and buried an 18kt gold Tasmanian tiger

with garnets and black star sapphire

wrapped in hand painted silk and seated

at the centre of three nesting pots

each with a wax seal.

We dug deep measuring with care and compass

2 meters west of a monument

to George the III a wretched ship wreck

where shackled convicts drowned thrashing in their chains

simple stones piled facing the bay and

the lighthouse tip of Bruny Island

At one meter deep my shoulder thrust deep in the hole

to scoop the last of the soil, we sank our gold tiger casket

backfilled the sand, smoothed the surface like thuggies

and tossed the spade over the cliff

to conceal the evidence just as first light

undid the dark in the sky over the sea.

In succeeding years readers combed our book for location clues

And a fat pile of their enquires is bundled still

in a shipping container propped behind the house.

There are two that I remember well.

Do these two notes tell us more

treasure hunter truth than

our book ever told our readers?

Treasure hunter one:

Your Tasmanian Tiger book is about the number 16


road sign for Derby 16 kilometers

the villan's shoe points to the 16

on page 16

a checkered skirt shows 16 squares up

and 16 squares down

and Tasmanian Tigers have 16 stripes

Dear treasure hunter

… remarkable, utterly intriguing.

You're right ... 16's do emerge from page to page

… coincidental maybe

we did not plant them there

… irrelevant without doubt

they will not lead to treasure.

Treasure hunter two:

I love your riddles, stories and pictures

they make treasure of my experience

Your riddles are koans

evoking flash of insight.

Obviously no real gold waits in a dark hole,

only spiritual gold inside of me

Thanks for the journey

Dear treasure hunter,

The gold is real and buried in a field.

The word became flesh and dwelt among us

Here the field, Christ the treasure

Treasure hunter One reads the Word

by rules of his own

by a different paradigm

And why not?

Don't all paths lead to the same destination

Don't all Ways turn up gold?

Apparently not.

Doesn't in the end

everything equal everything else?

Not in my life

Not by the remarkable book.

Not by God's clues.

Isn't that unfair to all the other seekers?

the readers of other treasure books?

No indeed. The choice cries out

unique to all the world.

The prize beckons to us all

by a narrow path

and hidden in a field

And What of treasure hunter 2?

Is some newer truth concealed.

Is the Garden merely legend?

Is God none other than myself?

What gross poverty would make

a treasurer hunter

settle for this?

When resurrection surety is as real as

our gold tiger in a pot of clay?

When one stepped from the grave fully alive

for us to touch, to hold, to be speechless with relief?

If one can so misread our book...

God's kingdom begs a second look.

Four years after the treasure disappeared

into the ground a reader got it right

and rang one night to say

"I know where your treasure is."

and indeed he did.

And we retraced our journey of that night so long before

and filmed his glee to dig the casket from the sand

and wash it in the sea

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11

The Word fitly spoken.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

The Word who spoke the world to life.

The Word who first spun stars from dust

Who pilots exuberant galaxies round the rim of the universe.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22:2

So here the garden come again

He the treasure birthed in toil and poverty

unlikely in a small Galilean town

now beams such quality of light that

the garden city of our destination needs

no other illumination.

What cost then the field

to likes of us?

Everything. The lot.

All that you have.

All that you are.

Handed over to God

A man sold all that he had and bought the field.

And the treasure?

What then is in the box?

The embrace of God

the city of light

displaced is the wide dusty field

by a a river

the Garden of God full circle

shimmers, lush and wide

banked by fruit bearing trees.

Life without end.

Treasure unspeakable.

Is there another way to look at the treasure and the pearl in there parables? Is it possible that God himself is the finder of treasure in a field? ... or the pearl merchant and we are the treasure or the pearl of great price? Broken bread and the wine of communion reminds so poignantly that we are indeed treasured by God, so loved as his lost sheep ( another parable) that he divested himself (undressing all the way) as George Herbert has it, to come among us. And at great cost, the cost of his own blood and suffering he bought us, retrieved us, redeemed us, the treasure lost in the field of the world. He considered us sinners of such great value that he gave his life for us “while we were still sinners” the book says, lost and indifferent to Him. So great his love.

1 comment:

Radagast said...

That's fantastic, and I love how you've woven in your own experience.

I think your poem uses the correct interpretation of the parable. As John Calvin wrote "The first two of these parables are intended to instruct believers to prefer the Kingdom of heaven to the whole world."

I hadn't thought before about how the parable emphasises the concreteness and the uniqueness of the Treasure. So thank you again.