Prayer before reading:
Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear you,
To receive your Spirit,
To be led by your Spirit.
Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
I suppose if someone asked me what the kingdom of heaven is like, I would try and explain it by saying, “It is following Jesus, becoming like Jesus.” And then, to clarify what I was trying to say, I would add, “There are many voices in the world, to follow Jesus is to listen to his voice, and to live out what he says in all of my life.” “It is allowing Jesus to rule my life.” As I look back at what I have just said, it is all true, but there is more – much more. How do I say what the kingdom of heaven is really like?
As we enter into the gospel narrative this week, our lectionary guide sits us down with the early followers of Jesus and bids us listen as Jesus talks about what the kingdom of heaven is like. Jesus doesn’t explain the kingdom, he tells short stories. He gives us windows to look through . . . . What do we see? What do we hear? Look, listen, ponder.
The kingdom of heaven is like . . .
. . . a mustard seed—the smallest of all seeds–that someone took and sowed in his field. When it was grown it is greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree . . .
. . . yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.
. . . treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
. . . a merchant in search of a fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
. . . a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous. . .
Now Jesus turns to us and asks, “Have you understood all this?” The early followers sitting close by answer, “Yes.”
Ponder the parables this week. Hear Jesus asking you, “Are you understanding all this?” Be in conversation with Jesus as you answer his question. To say, “No,” is not a sin, but rather an honest admission. Like Solomon, we can ask for wisdom (! Kings 3:5-12). And like Paul we discover that the Holy Spirit is present and ready to help us when we don’t get it, when we feel weak and unable as we gaze through the window of these parables into what the kingdom of heaven is like. (Romans 8:26)
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
- 7/18 Monday: Matthew 13:31-33
- 7/19 Tuesday: Matthew 13:44-52
- 7/20 Wednesday: Psalm 119: 129-136
- 7/21 Thursday: Romans 8:26-39
- 7/22 Friday: 1 Kings 3:5-12
- 7/23 Saturday: Matthew 13:31-33
- 7/24 Sunday: Matthew 13:44-52