“The Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field.”
Matthew 13:44 (NRSV)
To make an obvious opening statement: it’s hot outside. You may think to yourself it’s July in a humid part of the Northern Hemisphere, so yes, Pastor Ben, it’s hot, how perceptive. Still: it’s hot.
There are sounds that bring comfort on days like this, sounds that precede enjoyable sensations. There’s the whirr of the box fan in my attic window exhausting heat and making it comfortable. There’s the steady hum of air conditioning compressors, the drip of condensation leading to little weed gardens under the windows where they hang. I don’t think there is any more satisfying sound, however, than the crack of an ice cube tray. A glass of water when it’s 90+ degrees out and you’ve just come inside? Wonderful. A glass of ice water? Well, that’s just a little taste of heaven right there.
It got me curious to look into just when, where, and how our ancestors discovered the simple joy of dropping frozen water into warm water to produce colder water in hot places. I’ve heard stories from around the world of people hauling ice down from frozen mountaintops, but that’s expensive and, well, the stuff does melt. A little over two centuries ago, the story goes, two wealthy brothers from Boston were outside enjoying a picnic with cold beverages and ice cream when one made a joke that people in hot places would be jealous of this luxury.
The other brother, Frederic Tudor, couldn’t get the idea out of his head. He thought they could harvest ice from their family’s pond. They planned for six months, engineered a ship, and sure enough sent 80 tons of ice to Martinique where it arrived in perfect condition… and no one wanted anything to do with it. Still, Tudor stuck with the idea, and within a few decades every body of water in the northern parts of the United States was full of men harvesting ice in 300-pound blocks to send around the world, and people around the world experienced the joy of a fogged-up cold glass in the hand when it’s stifling.
The parables of the Kingdom of Heaven Jesus shares in Matthew’s gospel were written around the same time the first Christian community in Antioch was struggling. This is a reminder to discouraged people that this gift they’d found in the gospel was something so valuable it was worth letting go of everything else to secure. We face struggles of our own each day, sure, but we can do so secure in the knowledge that God’s love and grace for us is so beyond our ability to articulate that we turn to parables of hidden treasure and pearls of great price. As I sip on this ice water, I am reminded that the Kingdom of Heaven is already around us, as it was 200 years ago when people realized all that ice up there could make life better down here. It’s a call to gratitude and to always remember the gift is to be shared, not hoarded.
Where are people hot without relief? Who is in need of water, cool, clean water? This is the gospel: to believe, receive, and pass it on.
Grace and Peace,
In-person Worship Continues at Flemington UMC
Each week we will work to create a safe, inviting space for worship for those who participate in person while also live-streaming for those participating at home. If the desire for in-person worship increases, we will add an additional service to maintain necessary distance between worshippers until the pandemic is over. If you have questions or would like to help out, please reply to this message.
To make it plainer: we need help to do this well. Council Chair Grace Espeut has reached out for help with ushering and greeting people. If you have never done this before, we are happy to train you.
Nominations Season is Here
Each year we invite new people to lead different aspects of the church’s ministries. If you are eager or interested in giving your time please contact Pastor Ben. If you are asked, consider it an invitation to something good and worthwhile and say “yes!”
Worship with Flemington UMC on Facebook
Each Sunday at 10:30am, reach for your phone, tablet, computer, or other internet-connected device for a time of music, prayer, scripture, and preaching. Watching live gives the opportunity to comment in real-time with prayer requests, updates on your life, and more, but if you view the service later you can still comment and share prayer requests and experiences from your life with your church.
If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can simply visit the church’s Facebook page:
The videos are all accessible there without the need to create an account or login. If you have technical questions, please reach out.