The Kingdom of heaven is like…
….a treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13:44)
…a vineyard, where no one is to late to join in the work and the reward (Matthew 20:1-6)
….a grain of mustard that grows into the largest plant, a tree, where the birds of the air can build their nest (Mark 4:30-34)
When Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven, when we imagine the Kingdom of heaven it is a place that is radically different than earth. The Kingdom is, by definition, counter-cultural, drawing out grace and joy. It is a place we imagine, but also a place to work for. It is a goal that we cannot reach without God, but a world, a kingdom, a life worth pursuing.
The pastoral is political, because as long as we preach about the Kingdom of Heaven we are challenging the world as it is and engaging people in the work of changing the world to what it should be.
As the tragedy of Texas unfolds, and I get angry of all the things that are wrong with the situation, I continue to think about the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a place where everyone is given you a warm and safe and dry place to sleep. A place where there will be room for everyone.
The Kingdom of Heaven is radical in that it simply provides what is needed. It is manna, it is sufficiency, it is noncompetitve, non-capitalistic and anti-health and wealth. It is abundance theology incarnateThe Kingdom of Heaven is about harmony and equity–not cookie cutter Christianity or demands to leave your uniqueness at the door, but a balanced way of living that includes and values all people.
In the Kingdom of heaven no one is left out in the cold, (or worse the wet cold).
Similarly, in the Kingdom of heaven there is no greed, because everyone gets enough.
No one will be hungry because everyone will have enough to eat, and know there is enough to eat. There will be no greed, because everyone will have enough to eat, and everyone will know there is enough to eat.
There will be no loneliness, but no crowding either, and people will interact as their extroverted, introverted, neurotypical, nuerodivergent, gay, straight, cis, trans, nonbinary, genderqueer, pan, bi selves, because everyone will be beloved and know they have a right to love.
In the Kingdom of Heaven, there will be no hierarchy of belovedness and every single person will know themselves to be a sibling of Jesus Christ and a child of God.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like the home we all deserve, the security we all need, the value of personhood every single human being deserves.
The kingdom of heaven is where every age group’s health is valued, and the elderly are treated with care and respect and their gifts and relationships are valued, the disabled are treated with care and respect and their gifts and relationships are valued. They are integrated into society and their needs are not seen as bothersome as they age. They are given enough to live on, and they are able to marry if they wish. The kingdom of heaven is where the children get the healthcare, the dental care, the mental healthcare they need.
The kingdom heaven is where pandemics don’t become pandemics, because everyone is able to get all of their needs met, community and mental health needs are then prioritized, and there is no question of wearing a mask to help your neighbor. In the kingdom of heaven the order of vaccine disbursal is clear, and the disbursement is efficient and effective.
In the kingdom of heaven Climate Change is a priority and nations work hard, together, to remedy it, and to care for those communities effected by it.
Imagining the kingdom of heaven is not a passive enterprise. I want to work for a system where everyone is fed and clothed and sheltered. It is a place where physical, emotional and mental health needs are all given due consideration.
I want to work for a community where everyone is seen as called and beloved. I want to work for a system where children are not crying because they are cold and hungry and trapped. We do not have to live in the world as it is. We do not have to favor one type of family, one class, one skin color, one age group, over another.
The kingdom of heaven is political–I vote for it every time I’m in the booth, I work for it when I make decisions about my money and my resources and my life. The kingdom of heaven is pastoral–and political.
I invite you to consider the kingdom of heaven in your life.
Katy Stenta is a solo pastor at a tiny Presbyterian church that is bigger on the inside in Albany, NY since 2010 and blogs prayers & Narrative Lectionary at http://www.katyandtheword.com She is also the co-founder of the fledgling TrailPraisers inclusive Worship. When she is not dreaming up projects and ideas, some of which creep into the church, she plays with her three boys-boys or goes and visits her husband at the library, while he works, to read.
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