Kingdom of Heaven Sermon July 30

Let us pray. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable unto you O Lord our rock and our redeemer. Amen.
The kingdom of heaven is like a free wifi hotspot. (Unvirtous Abby) The kingdom of heaven is a pint of Ben and Jerry’s at the end of Vacation Bible School (a colleague). The kingdom of heaven is like finding hardwood floors under carpet. (Erin Evans) The kingdom of heaven is like a kindergartener whose tooth fell out in the middle of the night. And having lost the tooth, she was afraid that she had swallowed the tooth. And there was much wailing and gnashing of remaining teeth. But in the light of day, the tooth was discovered. And the child invited all stuffed animals and dolls- and even her parents0 to a party saying, “Rejoice with me for my tooth was lost has been found.” (David Hanson)
These are some of the examples of the kingdom of heaven that I found over the past few weeks from friends and colleagues across the country. It is hard to read this week’s Gospel and not ask, what would the kingdom of heaven be like today. But maybe before we get to what the kingdom of heaven would be like, we need to start with what the kingdom of heaven is. Or at least what we mean when we talk about the kingdom of heaven.
The kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God, is not heaven. Even though it is often confused enough. We hear about the Kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God in three of the Gospels- Matthew, Mark, and Luke. “The kingdom of heaven or of God is the divine activity of God in the world in the present moment, in the midst of our ordinary earthbound existence. When Jesus is talking about the kingdom of heaven or of God, he is talking about the holiness lurking about in the mundane monotony of our daily lives. ”
The kingdom of heaven and of God is not bound by anything we can understand or do, but rather by God’s action. And it is often not what we would expect or how we would imagine the kingdom of heaven and of God working out. And so when Jesus describes the kingdom of God to the crowd, there is nothing really to compare it to. There are no words that can fully describe the breadth and depth of the Kingdom of God. Because the kingdom of God is not what we expect. The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. When once planted will grow and take over everything. It seems so helpless, so small. But once it is planted there is no controlling it. It will take over everything. There is no stopping it from taking over.
Then there is the yeast mixed into bread, not bread used for religious services. But that yeast when mixed causes something to grow, something to change. Have you heard the recent story of a dump truck filled with left over dough that became so hot that left a sticky mess all over the interstate? The yeast took over and changed everything. That is what the kingdom of heaven is like. It will take over and change everything.
The kingdom of heaven for the farmer and the one for whom the found the pearl both had a journey. Some will see the work of God immediately in their life and others search a little longer. Both, no matter what passage they took, respond to the treasure they find in their life.
The kingdom of heaven is like a net filled with fish and the homeowner reminds us how radical the love, grace, and mercy of God is. Everyone is welcomed into the family of God, all of us have a place in the choir. We are a family of faith, and all are invited to the table, to hear the word of God, to taste the forgiveness and love in the bread and the wine.
The kingdom of heaven will change us and the world around us. It will push us beyond our comfort zones and take over our lives. The kingdom of God will call us beyond what we thing we know and what we think we can do or who we can be.
At the church I attended in college, we would often close the service with a prayer for venture. The prayer goes something like this, “O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
It is a prayer that when I was in college, I began to fall in love with it. Something about the prayer brought me peace. But over time I realized this was not such a nice and comforting prayer that I once thought it was. This prayer is not a prayer that allows us to be a person who sits back and watches the world go by. Rather, this is a prayer that breaks us out of those comfort zones into places that we often do not like to travel. To places where we are not comfortable. Places where we are challenged, sent out into the unknown, and left differently. This prayer is one that asks for the kingdom of heaven and of God to break into our world and let us go.
You see the kingdom of God is very present in our world today. But it is not always the easiest thing to discern, because we think it should look or be a certain way. We expect the kingdom of heaven and of God to be something different than what it actually is. We think when God breaks into our world it will be lightning bolts and large acts, instead of small moments. And in our world we think we need to create and do everything, but the kingdom of heaven is not about us and what we could or could not create. It is about what God creates and what God does for us and for the world.
So when we find it, like the person who finds the pearl in the field, we are called to give ourselves over to it completely. To see God in the moment, to experience the fullness of the kingdom, of the joy, of the peace, of the life, mercy, grace, and resurrection it brings to us and the world around us.
Where have you experienced the kingdom of God lately? Where have you been overcome by the love, grace, mercy, and kindness of God? When you see it, when you find the kingdom of God breaking into your world, share it with others. I guarantee that there are others longing to know that God indeed is present here and now in our world today. Amen.

Pastor Katie has served St. Paul Hametown since July 2012. She is a graduate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg with a Masters of Divinity and a concentration in Theology and Public Life. She is married with three children.

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