When we pray for God's kingdom to come what do we mean? Are we praying about some future experience unrelated to us today? Are we praying about some other group of people that will do this work after us? Are we praying about a hope for tomorrow or a reality of today? Hearing the parables of the kingdom over these last weeks, leaves me with a lot of questions, both about the quality and texture of the kingdom, but also about the action of the kingdom. It is this action which intrigues me the most, because of what it represents. It represents the beginning of something life altering, in the smallest way possible.
Matthew, being the first in our canonical gospels, does allot to set up the images of the Kingdom. Often the kingdom is heard through the lens of end times. The kingdom of God will come into this world during the eschaton, a moment that scripture tells us will be the fulfilment of time. This greek word is often heard as “end times,” however with any translation we have to dig down into the form of its use. Matthew is often read then as the kingdom of God arrives at the end of time- a future dated experience. But, when we go back with a refined sense of translation and language, we actually see that the Greek Eschaton does not refer to the world, but to the age. The kingdom of God, therefore, comes into our world at the end of this age, this expanse of time, this season we are experiencing now. For us, this means that the eschaton which ushers in the Kingdom of God is actually a daily experience, rather than an end of life moment. But how is that even possible, we still have war, we still have poverty, we still have hate and violence- it would seem that we still have all the hallmarks of a world devoid of the kingdom. Sure, we could look at the world that way, which would suggest that a future dated kingdom is easier to get behind because we have more time to get onboard and really change things first. However, that always assumes there is a tomorrow- and we’ve only been promised today. So where is this Kingdom?
If we think for a moment about the images being used to describe the kingdom, they all represent small- even insignificant items- becoming the catalyst for amazing growth, movement, and support of the kingdom’s work among us. A seed, yeast, treasurer in a large field, a pearl in the whole world, a net in the whole sea. Small and insignificant items in isolation which when focused on enable the growth of something massive. It just takes a little bit of imagination to see the importance of the possibility that's hidden in the smallest of movements in our world. In isolation, we are not likely to take a single seed, piece of yeast, pearl, treasure, or net seriously as a tool for the kingdom- when the needs of the world are so great. Why? Well, because they are so small and the needs are so great. Yet God calls us everyday into a greater and greater sense of the presence of him in our lives, a presence which is often felt in kingdom questions, kingdom nudges, which we see all around us today.. There's that nudge or question within us about why we still see violence or isolation in our world- that’s God planting the mustard seed in you. There's that nudge or question within us about why we still see poverty and homlessness on our streets- that's God planting some yeast inside you. There's that nudge or question within us about reconciliation and inclusion in the church, that's God opening the net within your ocean. There's that nudge or question that nurtures a pearl, or finds the treasure. That is God giving us a question and a nudge towards growth in the kingdom of God. Sometimes we ignore these nudges because they feel too large, heavy, beyond us. Yet God keeps nudging us into active growth, that opens for us a living sense of the kingdom today, all we have to do is dare to dream.
Our dreaming is more than just some fantastical landscape of “in a perfect world” potential, it's about connecting the dots of what God is planting within us and moving out into action. The end of our age, the age we are living in today, starts today, as we start to question the injustice we see and respond with the gifts God gave us, through which the kingdom becomes known in our time. And it all starts with a question, a wondering, a concern maybe, for something we see. What might that be for you? Maybe it’s a concern for people being alone? Maybe it's a desire to impact the next generation of our world? Maybe it's worry for the direction of our planet? Maybe it's the ethics of finance after Covid-19? Dig down inside yourself and see what's there. What's your seed, what's your yeast, treasure, pearl, net- what is God growing within you with an unquenchable passion today? Start following these nudges in your life. Talk to friends, explore further education, challenge the status quo- challenge yourself- God’s reign becomes ever more clearer through these nudges in our world. It's a lot to think about how to start, its alot to look at something and figure out how to start, but it's not impossible. Our neighbourhood ministry started with a kingdom nudge, when we started to ask ourselves about who was taking care of these people on the streets. And now look at the ministry? Its grown and thrived in ways we never thought possible way back when the nudge was just a small seed, piece of yeast, treasurer in a wide field, pearl in the world, net in the ocean. Our Neighbourhood ministry is now directly ending cycles of poverty for people, housing them, feeding them, helping them regain their humanity- now that sounds like the kingdom of God!
The Kingdom of God can be compared to many things, but it starts here today with our capacity to hear, listen, and imagine with God's eyes the potential of this world to be more than what we see- for it to be truly God’s world. You and I have the capacity to see Gods in breaking kingdom today in the small moments of God’s effectual presence in our lives, nudging us into ministry in his name through the vocations God has created for each and everyone of us to live. Our baptisms give us the frame of reference for our questions, the eucharist gives us the nudge, and the animating holy spirit alive in each of us empowers us to do more than we can ask or imagine. But it all starts here, today, with you and I, daring to see this world we love through God’s eyes- full of potential and amazing possibilities for a kingdom of freedom, hope, peace, and love. It's our job to start asking why that's not happening, and how we can affect change with our lives to let it happen. So where is the Kingdom Church, and how can we all see it differently because of your ministry in Christ's name this week?