With what can we compare the Kingdom of God? What parable will we use for it?

Cne be listened to here


Gate Pa 14 June 2015 – 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:

Psalm                                     Psalm 20                    
First Reading:                                     1 Samuel 15:34-16:13            
Second Reading:                                2 Cor 5:6-10,14-17                 
Gospel:                                                Mark 4:26-34                         

What I want to say:
To discuss what we think the Kingdom of God might be? We bring the same kind of assumptions to this phrase as Jesus hearers did. Are we able to engage with his answer? What does it do to our understanding of who we are and what is ours to do?
What I want to happen:
people to let go of their ideas about the kingdom of God and engage with Jesus fluid response. To enter the mystery of God.


The Sermon

     1.      Introduction:

With what can we compare the Kingdom of God? What parable will we use for it?
wonder what your reaction to that question is
wonder how answer it?
I wonder what crowd Jesus was speaking to thought about question
pay so little attention to question
            find no commentary about question
really interesting question
asked – how describe Kingdom of God
how think hearers responded? – any ideas?
answered that in terms restoration of Kingdom of David
represented best time
see in song of Zechariah
Blest are you, O God of Israel; *
   you have come to your people and set them free.
You have raised up for us a mighty Saviour, *
   born of the house of your servant David.
Through your holy prophets you promised of old,
that you would save us from our enemies, *
   from the hands of all who hate us.
You promised to show mercy to our forebears *
   and to remember your holy covenant.
This was the oath you swore to Sarah and Abraham, *
   to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship you without fear, *
   holy and righteous before you all the days of our life.
for hearers then
kingdom God was when all live in presence of living God under Law Moses without fear
end Roman rule
end to corruption of High Priests and Temple leadership
end to Herod and other Roman sycophants including Jerusalem elite
end harsh taxation – led to so many families losing their lands and leading to mass impoverishment and enriching of few Jerusalem based families
on the flip side
that included restoration of land back to families – traditionally owned it
restoration of true temple leadership and true temple worship
            not sham going on time Jesus
restoration line David and time where all had more than enough to live on
kingdom God summarised everything they longed for
one day soon would fight and die for

this is the kingdom of God
everyone knows it
to talk of Kingdom of God is dangerous
it is highly political and has huge social, economic and political ramifications
I find it really interesting that Jesus even asked the question
so why is Jesus asking the question
why is he giving the answers he is
hunch is – those heard it would been little alarmed he asked question
really confused by answer

     2.      The Answers

Jesus not talk about the kind of things I just listed
instead he tells two parables
both well known today
both honest
simply confusing
first farmer who sows seeds
goes away
comes back and there is a harvest
farmer sows and reaps, but the rest is up to the seed and the earth.
second uses mustard seed
            well known health properties and is used lot cooking
            and sowing during winter to help renutrientise the soil
small seed that ends up a reasonable sized shrub
            Mark is not prone to same exaggeration as Matthew – not a tree
which is also bit of weed
once planted it you will never get rid of it
just keeps reseeding
            growing all kinds places didn’t intend

so what does any of this say to their preconception about the kingdom of God
·         lot less describable than they think
·         not just about them and what they do
o   they have a role – but kingdom grows even while they sleep
·         they are not in control, can’t define it
o   mustard seeds have bad reputations germinating all kinds of places people don’t want them
·         is happening all around them , just as seeds are germinating all around them
·         finally - fruits are important part of kingdom rather than structure
o   harvest was key part of both stories
o   in terms of what they hoped for
            end Rome and oppressive taxes
            end corruption in Temple
            restoration of true leadership and good times
Maybe
Jesus is saying that Kingdom God is less about those things
more about fruits of those things
§  community of justice and peace
§  lived in generosity and compassion of God
Kingdom of God is now when we do these things,
            and when they are done to us.

     3.      Us

With what can we compare the Kingdom of God? What parable will we use for it?
how do we answer Jesus question to us?
when I was enthusiastic new ordinand, deacon and priest
right into Church Growth stuff
did some theological college
went three day seminar with Church Growth guru – Eddie Gibbs
read several books
preached on it in parish where curate
I am grateful for all of it
learnt a lot still shapes me today
Answer I would have given then to question
            With what can we compare the Kingdom of God?
like anything – it is church
our tasks is to grow kingdom by growing the church
we do that by planting seeds, carefully tending them and caring for them
and then harvest – when they become members church and coming every Sunday morning
that was point of church
and that was kingdom of God
my understanding was about Kingdom God was as fixed as people gathering around Jesus
Jesus parables are needed by me as much as they needed

     4.      Jesus parables and me

in fact whenever we have a fixed understanding
those parables shake us loose from our certainties
should make us a lot less sure about ourselves
parables say to us
kingdom of God is
  • lot less describable than we think
  • not just about us and what we do
    • we have a role – but kingdom grows even while we sleep
  • we are not in control – mustard seeds have bad reputations germinating all kinds of places people don’t want them
  • kingdom of God is not ours to define
  • is happening all around us , just as seeds are germinating all around us
  • finally - fruits are important part of kingdom rather than structure
o   communities of justice and peace
    • lived in and marked by the generosity and compassion of God
Kingdom of God is now when we do these things,
            and when they are done to us.

     5.      Conclusion

With what can you compare the Kingdom of God?
What parable will you use for it?

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