“The Kingdom of God Is Near”- By Roberta LaHue Brown
In my life, I’ve been enjoying a book entitled ‘An Altar in the World.’ In this book, Barbara Brown Taylor points out the importance of recognizing that it is in the ‘ordinary’ of life that we connect with God. Also, at Tuality Community of Christ we’ve been exploring the text of Matthew. Specifically, through July we’ve touched on verses in chapter 13, where Jesus uses parables, a method of teaching that draws parallels between the ‘ordinary’ of everyday life, to bring understanding about God. On July 27th, I presided and planned a service where we explored the scriptures and parables found in Matthew 13: 31-52. In these parables, Jesus begins several parables with ‘The kingdom of God is like…’
One of the phrases that stands out to me in this particular section of scripture is Matthew 43, where Jesus says ‘Are you listening to this? Really listening?’ (Matthew 13:43, The Message (MSG)). In response to that question, the congregation was lead in a responsive prayer (based on Matthew : 13: 51-52, MSG)
Leader: In telling of these parables Jesus asked, “Are you starting to get a handle on all this?”
Congregation: Then the people said “Yes.”
Leader: Then Jesus said, “Then you see how every student well-trained in God’s kingdom is like the owner of a general store who can put his hands on anything you need, old or new, exactly when you need it.”
Congregation: We are listening, God. We are getting a handle on all this. Thank you for your teaching and bringing an example through Christ. Amen
Also in response to the teachings found through the scriptures we were dwelling on, the congregation was asked to draw on some of their own experiences and observations. To draw parallels between the ‘ordinary’ and the kingdom of God. Some of those responses are shared here:
The kingdom of God is like…
…A family reunion. Everyone is related to everyone else.
…A Meer cat colony
…Family helping strangers in need. Support from family and friends.
…A beautiful garden- full of beautiful persons who wish to make the world around them grow and flourish with goodness and peace.
…People paying forward the blessings they have received to others
…Peace, love, togetherness
…Children creating and coloring with vibrant and beautiful colors. Not always staying within the lines, resulting in creations beautiful in their uniqueness.
…A big hug from family and friends
…A climb to the top of a mountain. To get there you must trust your guide, keep track and look after everyone. Be willing to endure hardship and challenges, and keep your eyes focused on reaching the summit
These statements were written on slips of paper, that were joined together to form a paper chain, with observations and understandings of the kingdom of God. One member wrote…’The chain links us together in common cause. It binds us into meeting common needs and brings us into experiencing the kingdom of God.’
In conclusion, I leave you with this thought written by a member during our community’s worship experience: ‘As Above, so Below. We can create Heaven on earth by matching our will with God’s will. When we are awake and aware of the messages of God in all life, we move closer to creating Heaven on earth.’
What a blessing to be a part of a faith community that recognizes the Divine in the everyday interactions with each other, may you be blessed with ‘The Kingdom’ today.
-Roberta LaHue Brown
Co-pastor, Tuality Community of Christ