Service of Hymns and Spirituals (Genesis 1 – 2:4; Matthew 28;16-20)
Elli found a treasure map hidden in the old house he had purchased, and the map was for the town where he lived. He carefully followed the instructions and excitedly approached the place where the treasure was hidden. He carefully dug down and hit an old coffee can. When he opened it, it was full of bottle caps. On the back of the map were two names, so he asked the town librarian about the names, and she remembered both of them. One was a town councillor so Eli visited the counselor to talk about the treasure. It turned out that the councillor and his friend, when they were 9 and had just read Treasure Island, decided to hide their treasure, a collection of bottle caps.
Some people just drift along through life, sleep-walking their way. As followers of Jesus, we are commissioned to deliberately follow a particular road in search of a special treasure. The road we are on with Jesus leads to the world promised in several places in the Bible, a world of shalom where love and peace prevail.
People living in slavery and poverty, the people who created most of our great spirituals in the past, clung to this promise for the strength they needed to just carry on in circumstances we have difficulty fully understanding.
Those who chose to follow Jesus on the Way, on the road where he leads, encounter the Great Commission as a barrier and doorway on their journey. It is frightening for most people to invite others on this journey, yet the act of inviting others keeps our feet planted more firmly. If the end of the road is our destination, then it inspires us to encourage others to join with us. Inviting them helps us keep our eyes on this end, this goal, and their company makes it more rewarding to continue our journey.
And while this road is narrow in some ways, it is wide enough to include any who wish to do so. Mahatma Ghandi followed this road as a Hindu. Some follow it as atheists. They choose this road because they see it as the best way to a very desirable end.
The gold paving for this road is self-giving love which includes caring enough about others to hear their stories, learn about their treasures, and help them reveal the hidden treasures they have within themselves.
All this we do while keeping our eyes on the end of the road, the world of shalom.
May we all share in this journey.