Here we are again, Gracious God. Receive us as we are. Feed us with your Word. Guide us by your Spirit. Confirm in us your love. And we will praise you. Amen.
Reflection: The kingdom of heaven is like….
This morning we read more parables of the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is like……the smallest of seeds that becomes the largest of trees; yeast that leavens the loaf; a treasure hidden in the field; the pearl of great value; a net that catches fish of every kind. These stories stir our emotions and ignite our imaginations. But they are opaque. What is Jesus talking about?
Jesus came to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of heaven come near, at hand (Mark 4:14-15). Yet getting hold of what the kingdom of heaven actually is is tricky. It’s like trying to hold a bubble or an oiled, squirming baby. We think we’ve got it and it pops or squirts out of our hands. Our understanding is partial. We see through a glass dimly.
Is it a physical place? The place we go after death? Is it a way of being in the world, a stance of faith and trust? Is it about the power and presence of God amongst us? Is it about hospitality (the large tree makes a home for birds; the net catches all kinds of fish)? What good news is Jesus whispering into your ear today?
We read these parables this morning alongside the reading from Romans (8:26-39). This familiar passage is a treasure itself. Knowing that the Spirit helps us in our weakness, interceding with sighs too deep for words when we have lost our power of speech or the ability to pray, is a great comfort. As is being reminded that God is God and that when things look bleak, God still is at work. The crown jewel of this passage for me is the strong assertion that absolutely nothing – not hardship, not disease, not death – can separate us from the love of God.
It is simply not possible to be separated from the love of God. Nothing we can do or that others do to us severs the bond of love. No tragedy. No law or policy. No sin. This love is so deep it is embedded in our very being, so wide it extends to the whole of creation, so profound it changes everything when we embrace it.
Is this then the kingdom of heaven? Is the knowledge of the love that will never let us go the thing that Jesus so wanted us to know and to live that he was willing to go to the cross?
To know oneself as beloved by the creator is a seed that flowers and fruits, a piece of yeast that leavens. To know oneself as beloved is a treasure, a great pearl, worth selling all for. To know oneself as beloved and to live out that love is to be willing to cast the net widely and let God be the judge, not us. To know oneself as beloved is to have all we need to become our true selves, made in the image of God, conformed to the likeness of Christ.
Today I will let that love, like a seed or a piece of leaven, be planted again deep in my heart. I will tend it with kindness. I will let go of my anxious fears and let God do whatever God may do with me. I will live in the knowledge of the Love that cannot let me go.
 The writer of the Gospel of Mark prefers the words “kingdom of God”.
Hymn The Kingdom of God is justice and joy R&S 200
sung by the Newcastle Cathedral Virtual Choir
The kingdom of God
is justice and joy,
for Jesus restores
what sin would destroy;
God’s power and glory
in Jesus we know
and here and hereafter
the kingdom shall grow.
The kingdom of God
is mercy and grace,
the prisoners are freed,
the sinners find place,
the outcast are welcomed
God’s banquet to share,
and hope is awakened
in place of despair.
The kingdom of God
is challenge and choice,
believe the good news,
repent and rejoice!
His love for us sinners
brought Christ to his cross,
our crisis of judgement
for gain or for loss.
God’s kingdom is come,
the gift and the goal,
in Jesus begun,
in heaven made whole;
the heirs of the kingdom
shall answer the call,
and all things cry ‘Glory!’
to God all in all.
May the face of God shine upon us.
May the love of Christ dwell within us.
May the friendship of the Holy Spirit walk beside us.