A sermon preached at St. Mary’s, Iffley by Graham Low on 2nd August 2023
It may well be that when you were a child you were either read Grim’s Fairy Tales, or you read them yourself. They are full of wise and imaginative messages for people of all ages. The last of them is called The Golden Treasure. It is about a small and poor boy who was sent out into the snowy forest with his sledge to gather firewood to warm the family home. When he had finished doing this, he felt very cold and decided to light a fire. As he cleared the ground for a place to make the fire, he was amazed to find a small and beautiful silver key. And so he thought that if there is a key then there must be a treasure chest with a keyhole somewhere near here. And so he searched and indeed he eventually found a small iron chest. He searched for the keyhole and eventually found it. The key fitted.
And that is the end of the story.
We are immediately left wondering what kind of treasure, what kind of wonders, were found in that boy’s treasure chest.
Today’s gospel is about treasure. So what is in our treasure chest: long life, good health, a nice house in a beautiful garden, a distinguished academic career, earning a lot of money, influence over people’s lives, success as a writer or scientist or artist or composer? Or perhaps our the treasure is something about feeling known and loved by God, to be at peace with God and those around us. Our inner treasure. Life is about finding our inner treasure. That process of finding our inner treasure is something which can be linked with knowing about, or being inspired by, the lives of the great saints. Some of them lived very different lives before they found where their treasure lay: obvious examples include Francis, and Augustine and Ignatius. Their life plans did not work out for various reasons. They underwent great change and they came to find that their treasure was to be found in the kingdom of God. We may be deeply moved and even may envy these people who were on astonishing journeys.
The great saints came to find that nothing separated themselves from the love of God in Christ Jesus. This was their treasure. So, we may ask: what separates us from this love of God? What is the key to finding this love? The answer and the key is prayer. And the key of prayer opens the heart, our human treasure chest, to find God. Our heart needs deep care. It is where our deepest longings lie. It is where our treasure lies. It is where our true potential lies. None of us can possibly have reached our true potential for living the life the God offers us. None of us can have found all the treasure in our box, in our heart. There is more for us to be and to do within the love of God.
May we have the grace through prayer to find the key which will open our hearts to the treasure beyond compare, the treasure of knowing God, the God who is the God of love. Amen.