By Pastor Kathy Itzin
The last few weeks, we have been reading about the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ or the ‘Kingdom of God’ in the Sunday Gospel. This was a hot topic for the Gospel writers, as it is presented in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Apparently, it was important to Jesus.
The Kingdom of Heaven, or the Kingdom of God doesn’t just mean heaven. It is anywhere where people recognize the presence of God. It’s even more than that. Wherever God’s way of living is lived, wherever God’s way of life is actualized, there is the Kingdom of God. One thing that can throw us off is the word ‘Kingdom.’ Americans don’t have kingdoms, and in general, we’re not highly impressed with the idea. The picture that comes to mind for me includes fabulous wealth and a lot of patriarchy, neither of which I find attractive.
But God’s Kingdom is more like a Commonwealth or ‘Kin-dom.’ Where all of us are ‘kin’ and all of us have the same rights and dignity. Where we are all family and we hope to care for each other like family.
Jesus explains it using many parables, (or metaphors with a twist). It’s like a mustard seed that grows out of control. It’s like yeast that infests everything it touches, and transforms it into something better. It’s something so important and wonderful that people would give up everything they owned to buy it. It’s open to everyone.
One of the great themes running through these parables is that it is hidden right under our noses. The mustard seed, which is very small, gets mixed in with the farmers’ seeds when scattered. The farmer wouldn’t know they are accidentally being planted along with the crops. The yeast has a power we can’t see and when mixed into the batter, miraculously changes what we see into something great. The amazing pearl is hidden in a batch of regular pearls, and the treasure worth everything is buried in a field.
The Kingdom of God is hidden from us at first glance. And Jesus seems to think it is there in our ordinary everyday lives: people gardening, cooking, walking outside, going about their business, folks going fishing. There is nothing odd about where it shows up, unless we think it needs to be fancy.
Today, we are in the midst of Minnesota summer glory. Heat, rain, chilly weather: we are surrounded by greenery, lakes, gardens, and beautiful trees. Where is the Kingdom here? I bet you can find it. Relationships. Nature, kindnesses offered to you, or which you give another. Faith. Goodness.
Look for it in the paper. See if you can find it in your day. A prayer I saw once isn’t exactly about the Kingdom, but it is close. "Lord help me to see your beauty this day…possibly, even in myself." Amen.