Chelsea Van Der Poel explores how regardless the season, God's goodness creates a hopeful new day.
On the seventeenth day of Advent, 2021, Pastor Chris Mann reflects on the value God places on each of us and the hope we have in the way of Jesus, each and every day.
A new treasure
Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.
Matthew 13:43-48 NRSV
What are you looking for? What do you want?
I’ve had to wrestle with these questions constantly over the last 12 months – and not just because of COVID – but because of questions of meaning, of purpose, of direction, of value.
I’ve been serving as a pastor of two different organisations that require time, attention, development and growth. Serving one group well during COVID is hard enough. Serving two? Well that’s probably not smart. Running a business leadership development business as well? Makes you question the wisdom of the person doing it all!
Which, of course, has happened.
The questions my friends, my colleagues, my family, my therapist and ultimately I myself have been asking are these:
What are you looking for? What do you want? Why do all of this? Why carry all this weight?
There are many reasons, but amongst them is that I’ve been on a quest to be valuable. To matter. To make a difference. To be important to others. To be seen.
Not a great reason for serving, because nothing I do will ever change my value, and that’s the truth that Jesus wants me – and wants you – and wants us - to hear today.
Jesus wants us and values us.
Jesus has searched for us.
Jesus has called us.
Jesus wants us to hear that He is bringing us together – that we aren’t alone.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve been trying to prove yourself, somewhere.
To your friends.
To your family.
To your faith community.
To your workplace.
To your culture.
To your – our – society.
Maybe you’ve been trying to prove yourself for a week or a month or as you lead up to and plan something for Christmas - for your family, friends, or faith community.
Maybe you’ve been trying to prove yourself for a year or more – for your value at work or at home.
Maybe you’ve been trying to prove yourself for your entire life, or for hundreds of years, as you try and prove your value to a society that may not truly value you for who you are.
The way of Jesus is different...New. Fresh. Refreshing. It starts today. The way of Jesus starts each new day.
The way of Jesus is the way of recognising the value of the other, your neighbour, sacrificing for each other, and of coming together. The way of Jesus is in finding in each person the treasure, the expensive pearl, and being amongst the good fish in his net.
To follow the way of Jesus does ask of us, individually and collectively, a question - Are we willing to give up what we have, because we recognise the value God places on each and every one of us. May you hear and see the new way of Jesus today, and each new day.
Chris Mann is the pastor at Mawson Lakes Community Church, a diverse congregation within the Lutheran Church of Australia and Endeavour College Mawson Lakes, and founder of Lifelong Leaders, helping Christian Leaders be life-givers and life-receivers in their world.
Creator God, thank you that you value us. Thank you that your Son Jesus came and searched for us, and gave up the riches of heaven for us.
Thank you that we have been caught in his net – together.
Help us to value our relationship with you, and our relationships with each other.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Photograph: Tim Everist, Sunset, Nanda, Kalbari Country, Western Australia
Visual Description: Water reflects the sunset, between silhouettes of the shore at the top and bottom. The sky above the horizon fades from orange to golden to rose pink.