The Empire or Reign of Heaven - or - Are we a Gorse Bush?

This can be listened to here

Gate Pa – Year A  17th Sunday of Ordinary Time,

Psalm                          Psalm: 105:1-11,45b                                                                       
First Reading:             Gen 29:15-28                                                   
Second Reading:        Rom 8:26-39                                                   
Gospel:                        Matt 13:31-33, 44-52   
What I want to say:
To ask
       What is the Kingdom of Heaven?
      How would you describe the Reign of Heaven from your experience of it?
      What images or stories would you tell?
and explore the response in light of Pauls image of God’s faithfulness and Matthews image of subversion
What I want to happen:
People to tell their own stories

The Sermon

       1.     Introduction:

      What is the Kingdom of Heaven?
      How would you describe the Reign of Heaven from your experience of it?
      What images or stories would you tell?

       2.     Paul

Reign of Heaven is found in fulfillment of the covenant
Today we hear that Spirit of God is yearning for us and within us, to restore humanity and renew creation through God’s people
As I have said this is at the heart of Paul’s theology.
the heart of what the reign of God looks life
When we are faithful to this (righteous) we find reign of heaven.

       3.     Matthew the Subversive

Matthew has Jesus tell several stories about this reign
another way of translating the Greek for reign or kingdom is empire
the Empire of Heaven
very different from Empire they lived under – Rome
very different from kingdom they lived in – of Herod
this language is very subversive
takes authority away from dominant powers of day and calls for another way seeing world
-         through the covenant.
tells some stories
Parable or story of mustard seed
little confused into what mustard seed grows into – shrub or tree
miss what this shrub is
our version would be parable of the gorse seed
who would plant gorse seed?
our forbears – I remember
turned out it was a weed
turned out it provided excellent cover for native bush to regenerate underneath
what a great image of the reign of heaven at work.

       4.     Flour Bombed

leads to second story told
woman who put yeast into 3 measures of flour.
goes over our heads
that is a huge quantity of flower
bake lot of bread
take lot of people to eat it.
shocking thing to say
who would be stupid enough to waste this much flour
who would behave in this outrageous and unexpected way?

       5.     Conclusion

Some great images
great stories
stories of subversion
stories that turn things upside down
unsettling and shocking stories
kingdom of heaven, reign of God is not nice
my hope is that you will keep thinking about what Paul and Matthew offer
but keep telling your stories
keep looking out
maybe we can be the gorse bush that allows the kingdom of heaven, empire of heaven to re-generate within us.