Monday, July 18, 2011

Unpacking Family Heirlooms

The lectionary readings for this week are:  1 Kings 3:5-12; Psalm 119:129-136; Romans 8:36-39; Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52

Moving is a chore – all that packing and unpacking.  But within that chore is a joy as well.  When you pack and unpack you go through your things very meticulously and in doing so, sometimes you discover treasure you had forgotten you had.
For me, this last move is the end of a move started five years ago when my family moved to seminary.  When we unpacked at seminary, we discovered that we didn’t have room for everything we had – especially for some of our keepsakes and family heirlooms.  So those items were carefully repacked for the day we would move into our first parsonage, where we would once again have room for them.

Then last summer, we packed once again, downsizing from a three bedroom to two bedroom seminary apartment.  Once again, we lacked room for everything, and packed away those things we would not need in the immediate future.

Now all the boxes have been emptied and long hidden treasures once again see the light of day.  There’s my great-great grandmother’s bowl – which Tim hates, but I love.  It was one of her wedding gifts and proudly displayed in my mother's house.  There’s my grandfather’s plate he used as a child, with the ABC’s around the edge.  I discovered that I had kept a few pieces of my mom’s Occupied Japan collection and a few pieces of my dad’s oriental brass collection – I thought all those were gone and I got a little misty-eyed as I thought of the joy my mom had hunting them down at garage sales and the glee in my dad's voice when he recounted finding that piece in a  $5 box of stuff from a flea market.  The journey through my family heirlooms has been wonderful.

I also discovered some newer treasures, more personal to me:  the mermaid tile my then 8-year old daughter had painted, the stuffed bear my husband brought back for me from a guys-only-trip to Cedar Point he took while we were dating, my son’s pinewood derby trophy.  Tiny shoes and wooden trains and oddly-shaped clay bowls.  All are precious to me although their market value is limited.

This weeks’ gospel is a series of parables about the kingdom of heaven.  It’s a mustard seed, a bit of leaven:  a little goes a long way.  It’s a hidden treasure and a pearl of great price: more valuable than anything.    
And the wise scribe (pastor) will go to the storehouse (God’s Word) and bring out these treasures that are old (those family heirlooms of wisdom passed down from our fore-parents in the faith) and the treasures that are new (truths that speak in fresh new ways to our congregations today). 

Hmmm...maybe there's a lesson found in all my packing and unpackng.  Perhaps we have to be "on the move" in order to discover anew those treasures!  Otherwise we get too comfortable where we are and no longer really see the beauty in Great-Great Grandmother's bowl!

May God grant me the wisdom to bring both those old treasures and the new treasures to my congregation this week and always.  Amen.

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