O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
your Son left the riches of heaven
and became poor for our sake:
when we prosper save us from pride,
when we are needy save us from despair,
that we may trust in you alone;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Psalm 59.1-4, 18-20
Rescue me from my enemies, O my God;
set me high above those that rise up against me.
Save me from the evildoers
and from murderous foes deliver me.
For see how they lie in wait for my soul
and the mighty stir up trouble against me.
Not for any fault or sin of mine, O Lord;
for no offence, they run and prepare themselves for war.
Yet will I sing of your strength
and every morning praise your steadfast love;
For you have been my stronghold,
my refuge in the day of my trouble.
To you, O my strength, will I sing;
for you, O God, are my refuge,
my God of steadfast love.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.’
How often have you found yourself torn between understanding and action? Between what you know you should do and the impulse to do something different, even the exact opposite? From a young age we struggle with this dilemma. Those who are older and more experienced try to teach us the difference between right and wrong, between kind and cruel, between good and evil, but we still, so often, make the wrong choice.
When we are young our bad choices rarely have serious consequences, largely because parents and teachers pick up the pieces and help us to rebuild our lives. As we get older the consequences of our poor choices become increasingly important as they develop the potential to have devastating effects on our lives.
In today’s reading we hear two single-sentence parables that contain guidance on making the right choice. Each short parable speaks of something that is of great value, and that can only be acquired at great personal cost. In fact, the treasure and the pearl of great value can only be acquired following the sacrifice of everything deemed to be of value in this world.
Why should anyone make such a sacrifice? The treasure and the pearl may be of immense value, but what good can they be if all else is gone? How can one live and flourish as the possessor of just one valuable item?
Too often, we spend our time using our fallible and inadequate human wisdom to reach poor and ill-informed decisions. Too often the decisions we make focus on our acquisition of wealth. Today, Jesus is reminding us that there is something of much higher value than worldly wealth and possessions. How can the Kingdom of Heaven stand comparison with anything in this world? In his parables Jesus speaks of “treasure” and a “pearl of great value”, but he is only using words and images we can comprehend to describe something way beyond our understanding, and of infinitely great value.
Can we set aside our self-interest and greed?
Can we make the right choice?
Can we become children of God, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven?
Or … is the call of worldly wealth just too strong to resist?
Prayers of Intercession
In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, you promised through your Son Jesus Christ to hear us when we pray in faith.
Strengthen David, Nicholas and Christopher our bishops and all your Church in the service of Christ, that those who confess your name may be united in your truth, live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world.
Bless and guide Elizabeth our Queen; give wisdom to all in authority; and direct this and every nation in the ways of justice and of peace; that we may honour one another, and seek the common good.
Give grace to us, our families and friends, and to all our neighbours, that we may serve Christ in one another, and love as he loves us.
Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit; give them courage and hope in their troubles; and bring them the joy of your salvation.
Hear us as we remember those who have died in the faith of Christ; according to your promises, grant us with them a share in your eternal kingdom.
Rejoicing in the fellowship of all your saints, we commend ourselves and the whole creation to your unfailing love.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Prayer for the week
Lord and heavenly Father,
make us mindful of your presence with us;
that we may draw near to you
with holy and humble hearts,
and offer prayers and praises
acceptable in your sight;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore.