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Sunday 2 June 2024 Trinity 1, Proper 4

God’s detectorists

Deuteronomy 5:12-15; 2 Corinthians 4:5-12; Mark 2:23-3:6


By Diane Smith

A retired Methodist Minister serving over two Circuits in the London District of the Methodist Church

Context: a rural church with a small congregation of mixed ages. (The congregation is used to the storytelling format of Godly Play)

Aim: that we might become Detectorists of Faith, using all the tools available to us to unearth the treasure of the Kingdom and so grow and mature in our faith in Jesus

As a nation we seem to be hooked on discovering treasure, with programmes such as the Antiques Road Show, Bargain Hunt, Cash in The Attic and Fake or Fortune all attracting large audiences.

Then of course, there is the Aladdin’s Cave of charity shops, car boot sales and websites such as Vinted, all dangling the carrot of possible treasure, or at least the chance to bag a genuine bargain.

However, when asked ‘What is the best gift you have ever received?’, as in the Godly Play story of Creation, many give replies concerning non-material treasures.

The Bible urges us to dig deeper for the more lasting treasures of the Kingdom of God. We recall that Solomon was commended by God for his desire for the treasure of wisdom. All three of our Bible readings today urge us to scan our world thoughtfully, carefully, and consistently for the deeper lasting treasures of the Kingdom. Treasures that are imperishable, treasures that do not gather rust.

First up is the treasure of rest. The treasure of rest and recuperation is a holy treasure given by God from the beginning of time, such is its importance, with Sabbath rest having the further blessing of consciously resting in God and turning aside from whatever our normal routine might be.

Our reading from Deuteronomy clearly sets out the requirements of Sabbath rest. The rest prescribed includes provision for slaves and for animals. Elsewhere in scripture, we also read of provision for the land to lie fallow and rest. This provision was clearly ahead of its time in its inclusivity and long-term benefits to both people and planet. Sabbath rest and rest in general are holy gifts, sadly and tragically not known to all.

We reflect upon the countless people who toil for long hours with little or no rest and we call to mind those working in dangerous environments who do not receive a just living wage. Clearly people and planet still cry out for the treasure of Sabbath rest!

So, our detecting does not only concern the pursuit of personal treasure, but shared treasure and a real desire to see that justice becomes a reality for the exploited of our world. A real desire to see the implementation of safe working conditions and fair wages for all. A real desire to see the land and animals well rested and cared for alongside their human owners.

Jesus, in our Gospel reading from Mark, addresses the practice of Sabbath rest and makes us dig deeper still. He highlights the plight of David’s men in their hunger, eating consecrated bread. Here and elsewhere and perhaps especially when Jesus heals on the Sabbath, he is requiring that we look beyond the rules of Sabbath to the greater rule of love.

The saving of life is the top priority, the trump card. We see it expressed beautifully in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

However, if we can truly rest in God, we will surely be in a much better position to respond to urgent need as and when it arises.

So, those two readings have enabled us to think about the holy gift of rest and Sabbath rest, its restorative and healing practice and how much progress is still required in a world, for this treasure to be owned by all. But Paul’s letter to the Church in Corinth requires of us a more personal and introspective reading, as well as social application. Here Paul paints a beautiful picture of our life in Christ.

We are only clay pots, but we hold the most pious and priceless gift of all (by the power of the Holy Spirit of Christ living within us).

All of 2 Corinthians 4 needs unearthing for herein lies a great hoard of treasure, attributes we require to live in Christ and to share Christ. I urge you to unearth all this treasure by reading the whole of the chapter.

Keep on digging, never stop being God’s Detectorists and so hear afresh an extract from R.S. Thomas’ poem The Bright Field:


I have seen the sun break though to illuminate a small field for a while, and gone my way and forgotten it. But that was the pearl of great price, the one field that had the treasure in it. I realise now that I must give all that I have to possess it.


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