Reflections from Pastor Neil:
Dear Beloved Community of St. John’s,
In this week’s gospel, Jesus is sharing a series of short, delicious parables. Not full parables, really, but splendid food for thought. These teachings of Jesus are familiar and often quoted.
When I was young, many young girls wore pendants with mustard seeds in them. From early on, I knew the parable of the mustard seed. Another one of these parables is about the man who sold everything he owned to buy a field with a hidden treasure. What that treasure might be is not specified by Jesus. And then third, there is the pearl merchant who sells all he owns to buy the perfect pearl of greatest price. The gospel is silent about how the pearl merchant knew the value of this particular pearl, and what he did with it.
These pithy teachings pose questions to us: what are the mustard seeds in our lives—the little seeds that grow into noble, beautiful trees? Again, what would we sell to buy a hidden treasure, and what specifically would that treasure be? And again, finally, what would be the perfect pearl in our own lives, and what would we do if we owned such a valuable find?
In Bible study, a colleague posed these very questions to all of us. It caught me up short. I’d like to think I’m a deep thinker, and I certainly have spent a long time studying scripture. But I’m not sure the best answers to these questions. What is my seed? What would I sell to acquire both the buried treasure and the wondrous pearl? And what would that treasure be and the pearl be, and what would I do once I acquired them?
I’m still thinking and wondering because I haven’t come up with answers that satisfy me. I invite all of you to wonder along with me. Really—wonder how you would answer these questions. I think the answers are very important and will tell us a lot that is essential about ourselves, our relationships, and our spiritual lives.