What is the kingdom of heaven? Is it a place where God rules? Is it the place where we go after we die? Is it something to do with here and now?
Matthew uses “kingdom of heaven” instead of Mark and Luke’s “kingdom of God.” They seem to be used interchangeably but Matthew probably used “heaven” in light of his Jewish sensitivities to not saying or writing the name of God.
The hardest part of a kingdom that is about now and later is that it is easier to focus on entering the kingdom – later, after we die. Of course, it has been a main focus for centuries. Preached almost as a threat. “Live kindly now so that you can go to heaven later.” yet, what of living the radical message of kingdom now? We pray “Thy kingdom come, they will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Where is God making that heaven hear and now?
I think the parables give us hints as to how that is happening. The parables of; the sower and the seed, the weeds, and the mustard seed. They are all glimpses of what happens when kingdom comes. Parables are shocking and hard to understand because they are unexpected. They are difficult teachings. They are sometimes so basic that it just can’t be that easy and sometimes scandalous.
What might the kingdom lessons be for today? Where are we seeing kingdom now? Kingdom sightings happen when Black Lives Matter, when people wear masks, when all are welcome. Kingdom practicing occurs when the poor get justice, when the lame are healed, when God’s kingdom is lived in reality.
The kingdom of heaven was central to Jesus’ teaching and mission. He then passed that on to us. We are to be living kingdom now. Godly Play Sunday school curriculum says “And Jesus became the parable.” Jesus is the kingdom and if he lives in your hear, then you also are the kingdom. Blessed be the kingdom.
Pastor Lynnae I Sorensen