Monday, August 23, 2010

coming to the kingdom

Good morning all,
I'm off on vacation a little later this morning, but the readings should continue more or less on schedule. I'll be reachable by email or voice mail if you need me. This morning is a challenging reading. On the one hand Jesus talks about the kingdom of God as a mustard seed or a bit of yeast; images that seem to point to it being sometimes hidden but ultimately wide-ranging in influence. On the other hand he uses images of a narrow door and people being locked out of the master's house. These images seem to say that it's hard to get into the kingdom. At the same time that he talks about the people locked out of the kingdom, he also says that people will come from east and west to eat in the kingdom and that many who are last will be first and the first last.

Maybe the idea is less about how difficult it is to get in and more about the surprising people who come to God's kingdom. People we don't expect will be in the kingdom and others who expect that they will be there will not. Jesus spent a lot of his ministry reaching out to people left out by society. He also spent plenty of time criticizing the religious leaders and those society thought well of. God's kingdom isn't set up like our kingdoms and we don't get to chose who's in or out. Like a mustard seed or bit of yeast, the kingdom's presence today is easy to miss. One day the kingdom will be obvious and it will be clear that it is the place to be. Are our words and actions today preparing us to accept God's kingdom? Are we looking for what God is doing today.


Luke 13:18-30
18He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? 19It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” 20And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? 21It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” 22Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.

23Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, 24“Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. 25When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ 28There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. 29Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. 30Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

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