Monday Memo: Pearls

Terry Walton



I was thinking...

Pearls have been on my mind lately. They are everywhere. Who would have thought that a baseball player wearing pearls would create such a phenomenon? Joc Pederson of the Atlanta Braves is a different sort of guy. Instead of all the gold with bling that so many of today’s Professional baseball players wear, he began in September to wear a string of pearls. Immediately it was noticed because those pearls seemed so out of place. However, as Joc began to make significant contributions helping the Atlanta Braves reach the post season tournament, as well as his timely hitting in the post season, pearls have been given greater prestige.

Sales of real pearls, plastic pearls and pearls of all types have increased dramatically. It is new and it is different. Many have wondered “Are Joc’s pearls real pearls?” You bet they are real. He had a jeweler make them for him. Not a surprise either, Joc is authentic to who he is as a person and thus his pearls are uniquely real as well. Shoot! I may even start wearing pearls. They seem to be the new fad of fashion.

I once asked Sharon “What makes a hit song a hit?” Her answer was insightful to me. “I don’t know what makes it a hit, but when it clicks…it clicks with a lot of people all at once.” I have seen it happen before. Maybe you have too. Entrepreneurs live in the world of creating new and amazing possibilities. They fail at many ventures, but when they succeed, they usually succeed in a big way. “When it clicks…it clicks with a lot of people all at once.”

I don’t know, but I suspect Joc Pederson did not intend on increasing the sales market for pearls. I think he was just being Joc. But pearls have certainly clicked with a lot of people all at once. Pearls are everywhere.

In the day of Jesus, pearls were of value as well. As he sought to teach his early listeners about the kingdom of heaven, he used a pearl as his object lesson. Matthew remembered his lesson vividly and records Jesus to have taught, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (13:45-46, NRSV)

Wow, Jesus, do you mean to say that the kingdom of heaven is of such value that we ought to commit our all to be a citizen of such a valued place like the kingdom of heaven? No, that is not exactly what Jesus is teaching. Perhaps we have gotten the cart before the horse. Jesus is saying that we are the valued pearl and God, through the life of Jesus, has said and continues to say that God gives all for us…you, me, and everyone. 

I heard it once said that “we really can’t say and believe God is everything to us until we can say and believe that we are everything to God.” We are the valued pearls. Jesus knew that if those early followers realized how much they were treasured, then they would treasure the kingdom of heaven. Here’s what I think: what God has done for us is the only motivation for what we do and are in response to God. It is love responding to love.

I have seen way too many who claim the title of ‘Christian’ who look and live like they have been sucking on green persimmons. We are certain to have ‘green persimmon moments’ but if that is our primary posture, then I wonder if we have understood God’s love for us. It is a love that frees and lifts not only the corners of our mouths into a smile, but also lifts the corners of our lives into a beauty that pales even the finest of pearls.

I’m wearing my pearls this week (actually…they are Sharon’s pearls, and she has given me permission to wear them). Thanks, Joc Pederson for bringing some fun into Braves Country. You have reminded me of another pearl found in the teaching of Jesus. I am a pearl of great value…and so are you. Thanks be to God!

Always thinking...

The Rev. Dr. Terry E. Walton
Executive Assistant to the Bishop

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