Rev. Andrew Cunnington
1st August 2021
X Marks the Spot for the Buried Treasure of Christ

“Can you come down to the church as quickly as possible” came a message on the phone. “There are four people in here with bobble hats and rucksacks and they’re wandering about the place talking into their phones and taking lots of pictures and I don’t quite know what to do”

“I’m on my way” I said with a sigh “What on earth was this?”

There is one aspect of church fundraising that was thankfully on its last legs before Covid struck and now I think will be completely defunct for ever. I refer to the dreadful ordeal, the pushing and shoving and blood, sweat and tears of the parish jumble sale. All those tables piled high with discarded vests and pants, knickers and bras. Dowdy summer dresses and threadbare shirts. Tasteless scarves and old coats with fur collars, and how the people would pile in to give you no more than 10p for each item.

As a very small boy, I accompanied my Grandma to a Jumble Sale at her church and she set me up with my own stall right next to one of these piles of junk. And she dug out an old treasure island map and I was to sit there all morning and encourage the jumblies to guess where the buried treasure might be and mark a cross on the place of their choice. And all for threepence a go.

The stampede over the jumble was like football hooliganism run amok – and no one was interested in the possibility of buried treasure – “Give you sixpence for the map” said one irritating character.

Hunting for bargains amidst rejected stuff. Getting as much as you can for as little as you can – when there was unknown treasure under your nose. I didn’t let on but the winner would get the biggest bar of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut chocolate that you ever saw.

A couple of weeks ago I talked about the frenzy Jesus created when he came to a neighbourhood. People rushing around after Him – trying to drag a miracle from his hands or a story from his lips.

Today they are at it again – but this time, for a while, Jesus has given them the slip. He is not where he was meant to be. He cannot be found. He needed searching out and Jesus sees that the people are not looking to him for a deeper spiritual understanding about themselves – but because they had eaten their fill of the loaves at the feeding the five thousand they wanted more of that.

Jesus leads them in the exchange that follows, to see that it’s about digging down for something inside. The bread he is speaking of is not convenience food for today’s tomorrow’s sandwiches but is about reaching something new, that is the presence of God inside you buried rather than untouchably way beyond you.

As if each follower was like a treasure map – somewhere buried in you – is the winning location. Maybe it’s your hands – something you can touch. Maybe its in your feet, somewhere you can go. Maybe it’s in your mouth something you can say. Maybe its in your mind or your heart. And your treasure is like no one elses.

From the unlikely position of a prison cell, this is what Paul is trying to communicate. We are each called to a way of life, where through lowliness and meekness, patience and forebearing, not popular words, you will discover the grace of God that has been given to you and use it to build up the church.

This is something that baptism makes possible and indeed, when a candidate is anointed on their forehead at their baptism – it is in the shape of the cross and X marks the spot. Each of us who are baptised are the possessors of buried treasure that it is our responsibility to unearth and use to his glory. And maybe sometimes we don’t know its there – or we think it was dug up many moons ago and our island is barren now.

But we become jumble sale totters rather treasure hunters but Jesus once said – where your treasure is there your heart will be also – so it’s never far away from that which makes you truly tick.

So I came into the church and there they were wandering about as if they owned the place as if in a trance with their phones out.

Well asked them what they thought they were doing.

“Oh, so terribly sorry” they said for they were very well spoken “we’ve just got a bit carried away … we’re Geo cashers you see”

And our signal has led us right into your church because it says there is buried treasure right here somewhere.

Now, you may need to know that Geo cashing is a world wide thing where people leave little items of treasure in all sorts of places and with maps and signals – you can find where it is. If you find the treasure you can take it for yourself – but you must leave something in its place.

“Well I don’t think you will find any buried treasure in here” I said – but no sooner were the words out of my mouth that I realised that if that were true it would be a terrible indictment of St Matthew’s.

Actually if you came on a Sunday, you would find it buried in every person seated in these pews – I added hastily.

“Huh” said the Geo cashers as one.

Can we accept that? That we have such a gift within ourselves and that it is constantly renewed to be relevant to the changing situations we face and that the cross on our foreheads at baptism and the bread in our hands at communion are the signs that – this is so.

Lord give us this bread always – said the crowd – and Jesus must have known he was getting somewhere.

JOHN 6: 24-35