Roger's Postings

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52.      The Kingdom of Heaven??                 24/7/11

 (31)  He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. {32} Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches." {33} He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."

{44} "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. {45} "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. {46} When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. {47} "Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. {48} When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. {49} This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous {50} and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. {51} "Have you understood all these things?" Jesus asked. "Yes," they replied. {52} He said to them, "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old."

 The kingdom of heaven is like ....the kingdom of heaven is like ....the kingdom of heaven is like .... Five times in this reading we are told that the kingdom heaven is like ...... Well what is that kingdom like? What do you here today think Jesus is talking about? I would venture to say that for many us this kingdom is something that is way out there somewhere: pie in the sky stuff: This kingdom for us is really something that has more to do with the next life than here and now, and so perhaps are tempted not to think too much about what is said here.

 Yet the message here is exactly the opposite. For what Jesus is emphasising to all of us here is, that here in God’s kingdom we have something that is vitally important to us, here and now. Here we have something that we need to think seriously about: All of us. The issue in fact is something that is so important and valuable that it can't be put off, ignored or left till later on. So it has everything to do with life here and now. To put off, ignore or seek to leave serious thinking about this issue to later on, is placing ourselves in great danger. And above all, it is denying ourselves the greatest treasure of all: One that is worth everything in life to us. This treasure – this kingdom talk has a great deal to do with life here, now and tomorrow; in our work and in our play; as well as in eternity. Jesus is here calling us to take seriously this whole matter: to get a bit excited about it; and to look to these things as important; vitally important.

 So can you see what the issue here is for us today? Can you see what Jesus is wanting us to think about; what it is that is so important and valuable in life for us; what it is that we surely would be selling all we have; our heart, soul and life for? That is the serious question we are faced with in our reading today.

 Yet how many of us are like the man in this supposedly true story of a gold fossicker. He had a claim which he had staked and in which he spent many hour working; seeking to find his fortune that would set him up for the rest of his life. Thinking all along the way, that if only he could strike it rich, then he could have it all; security, pleasure and all he wanted and needed.

 So he worked hard picking, digging, shovelling and all the rest. But he was continually frustrated; for all he kept coming up with was great stones that he would throw in a heap in the corner of his claim. Finally he gave up in despair not having found any gold. He sold his claim for a pittance and moved on with nothing.

 Now the new owner happened to working by that heap of stones, and happened to hit one of the rocks with his pick, and the shell of the rock shattered, revealing a nice lump of gold in the middle. The whole pile of stones that the first man had dug up was worth a fortune, and was there for the taking, but the first fossicker just didn't realize the value of what he had and let it go.

 Now sadly it would seem that so many today are doing exactly the same thing: They have infinite riches right there in front of them; and it is there for the taking, and yet they are overlooking, ignoring and pushing it aside. The kingdom of heaven is right here in the midst of us today: here for you, me and all the others around us. God's activity, involvement, riches, life and everything else is right here for us all. And what are we doing about it?

 Ho hum - gosh life is difficult – look we had better get on with our day to day work and make a few more dollars; then we can then have this and do that; by the way there is a football match to watch or a trip up-country that we have to do; there is school work that has to be done that is so important; and the thinking goes on. So look you understand if I give Church a miss this week. I'm that busy; I have to go here and do that; I am not feeling so good; and the excuses keep rolling. Anyway the services are not that interesting and I don't really understand the liturgy and all that; I mean, what has it got to do with my work tomorrow and my feeling good about things.

 O yes, off course I believe and all that, so look I am OK. Look when it comes to Bible Study and all the rest, well I’ll get around to it sometime. And prayer; well what is the use; he doesn't seem to be listening anyway. Then when we get comments like; ‘If there is a God, why did he allow that tsunami, or that accident to happen, or that child to die, or whatever’, then because we ourselves don't know, we are left in a turmoil and are unsure. Or when we hear all sorts of ideas and twists as to what ‘christian’ is all about we either go along with anything and everything or we just give it all away.

 In all of this, what are we doing in our thinking and living? We are piling up a heap of stones in the corner of our lives. We are still going; still fossicking away trying to find the elusive riches of life that will give us real satisfaction, meaning and purpose. But somehow the riches of the kingdom keep eluding us. The importance of God's kingdom is still out there somewhere; or in our thinking maybe it not there at all; but we will keep on going just in case.

 However, this morning again, we are reminded that the kingdom of God is here now. God is involved and active in our world. He does reign supreme and is vital for the meaning, purpose, peace and happiness in life. He does give to us all that we need for this life and the next. This kingdom is here for each one of us now and always. Yes perhaps his power, relevance and all the rest is somewhat hidden in the midst of our liturgical language, and the difficulties and tragedies of life. Perhaps we can't always see the riches, importance and value of Jesus and his death on the cross and his Church as we live out our daily life. But it is still all there; and there for you and me, whether we can see it or not.

 It is here that Jesus is encouraging us to see to it that nothing distracts us from the importance of God and what he has and is doing for us. He wants us to see that nothing is more valuable for us and for our lives here and now than what Jesus Christ has done for us through his death on the cross and our association with him. God and what has to say is of great significance for us and our welfare and ultimate happiness in this life; and of absolute significance when it comes to eternity.

 So back to the initial question at the beginning; what is this kingdom of heaven like? It is God's presence and activity in our world; and this is primarily in and through Jesus Christ and his death on the cross that is of such importance. Nothing should distract us and get in the way of our clinging to him and holding on to him for dear life. That being the case, we will place worship and what has to give us through it as of utmost importance. The Word and Sacraments are things that are most important in life for us and therefore we will surely give up everything else in order to have a part in this. This will be more important than all these other things that our modern world tries to thrust on us as being what life is all about.

That is what the kingdom of heaven is like. It does have everything to do with life for us now and always. So may this great and gracious God and his involvement, and activity in our lives be very much a part your life and thinking now and forever. AMEN.
Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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