March 31, 2019

Renewal Works!
4th Sunday in Lent, Year C
Becky Robbins-Penniman

The Kingdom of Heaven . . . What’s it like?
We tend to talk about pearly gates and streets of gold, or, my favorite image, a V-E-R-Y long table full of great food and feasting people. But what does Jesus say? The Kingdom of Heaven is like some very ordinary, everyday things: A tiny mustard seed. Yeast in a bushel – that’s 60 POUNDS – of wheat flour. A treasure in a field. A merchant on a search. A fishing net in a boat.

The first thing that struck me about this list is the diversity of places: we have farms and kitchens, fields and markets, and a deep lake. The second is the diversity of people: A farmer, a woman, an explorer, a business person, a fishing crew.

The third is the abundance: a large tree from a tiny seed, a bushel of flour. Fun fact: that makes ~100 loaves of whole-wheat bread – a valuable treasure in a field. Living in Tampa, I thought of pirate booty! and a single pearl so precious it’s worth all a person’s assets, Another fun fact: the Greek word for “pearl” is “μαργαρίτης” – margaritis! There is nothing stingy or sour about any of these images! Well, except for the kind of margarita you drink.

And finally, what struck me is that there was a certain level of discernment used by the people in the stories: Where is a good place to plant a mustard seed? How much yeast do I need for all that flour? In a big world, where do I look for buried treasure? How do I know a pearl is very precious – worth ALL my assets? And, which fish are worth keeping and which to pitch? I guess it depend whether you were going to eat them or put them in an aquarium.

Frankly, I don’t know the answer to a single one of those questions. I don’t have to, because these stories are not about humans, they are about God, what God is already doing in this world: God’s Kingdom, God’s Reign, God’s presence, God’s action and will are ALREADY being done on earth as it is in heaven.

Read the full sermon text HERE.