The lectionary uses this final set of teachings on the Kingdom as a kind of capstone. The Kingdom may look small, but manifests as something huge (mustard seed); the Kingdom mixes in and gives life (yeast); the Kingdom is a treasure that is to be sought after (hidden in a field, a fine pearl); the Kingdom includes all and then God is the final judge (the net that caught every kind). There is a freedom here as we discover that God’s Kingdom is not in our control and yet we engage in the Kingdom mission with God. The final challenge is to be ‘líke the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old’ (vs52).
Perhaps this is a challenge to be engaged with the world around and a reminder that the Kingdom cannot be contained with the wall of the church.
Jesus uses another parable to help explain the Kingdom of Heaven. Like the other parables, there is this sense of constant reversal. The banquet attended by the poor, prostitutes and lepers; bread that is not unleavened Manna, but filled with yeast; a field with a seed, a tree and birds; a field filled with wheat AND weeds. What if we looked upon this parable not as one of judgement, but of grace? It is not our job to weed, but only to grow and to tend the field, Barbara Brown Taylor, in her book The Seeds of Heaven, says this: “growth interests [God] more than perfection and that he is willing to risk fat weeds for fat wheat. When we try to help him out a little, to improve on his plan, he lets us know that our timing is off, not to mention our judgment, and that he
does, after all, own the field.”
True Freedom in Forgiveness
The news is constantly full of the horrors of the world. We rarely hear much good news from the media. Few people are so blessed as to never have been hurt by another human being… by unkind words or cruel actions, be they intended or not.The load of hurt can be a crippling burden. I share with you, this week, the wisdom of one who has known far deeper hurt than I.
***”When Bill Clinton met Nelson Mandela for the first time, he had a question on his mind: “When you were released from prison, Mr. Mandela,” the former President said, “I woke my daughter at three o’clock in the morning. I wanted her to see this historic event.” Then President Clinton zeroed in on his question: “As you marched from the cellblock across the yard to the gate of the prison, the camera focused in on your face. I have never seen such anger, and even hatred, in any man as was expressed on your face at that time. That’s not the Nelson Mandela I know today,” said Clinton. “What was that about?”
Mandela answered, “I’m surprised that you saw that, and I regret that the cameras caught my anger. As I walked across the courtyard that day I thought to myself, ‘They’ve taken everything from you that matters. Your cause is dead. Your family is gone. Your friends have been killed. Now they’re releasing you, but there’s nothing left for you out there.’ And I hated them for what they had taken from me. Then, I sensed an inner voice saying to me, ‘Nelson! For twenty-seven years you were their prisoner, but you were always a free man! Don’t allow them to make you into a free man, only to turn you into their prisoner!'”
You can never be free to be a whole person if you are unable to forgive.
***(As quoted by King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com)
Forgiveness: Never does the human soul appear so strong and noble as when it forgoes revenge and dares to forgive an injury.
E. H. Chapin
In Romans 6, Paul calls us to be “instruments of righteousness.” Can we use this metaphor of instruments (or weapons or tools) to measure our stewardship? Are our energies, in the form of time, money and thinking going toward shaping ourselves to do right, both as individuals and as a faith community? If each task requires an instrument or tool designed for that task, what kind of instruments are we? Are we well maintained and fit for purpose? What does it mean for us to be instruments of righteousness in every situation rather than instruments of self-preservation or instruments of personal gain? Can we measure the righteousness of every situation? Does this situation free us or enslave us?
Friends of Christ, children of God, before you today and everyday is the challenge to live free, to not be enslaved but to revel and grow into the freedom that God gives through Christ. Will you now rise to this glorious calling?
Will you live today as free women and men?
Go then, in the sure and certain knowledge that your life is the free gift of God to you and to the whole world.
Rejoice, be glad and live into and out of your gift. God goes with you.