Category Archives: Lectionary

What Would I Give For The Kingdom?

In Richard III, Shakespeare famously has him saying “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse”, he is willing to give up everything he has to get a horse after losing his own. In this weeks gospel readings we see what people are willing to sacrifice for various treasures, but actually the question is, ‘What are you willing to give for the Kingdom?’.

The one thing I remember distinctly from my ‘O’ Levels is from the Scripture classes and that is

the kingdom of God is the rule of God in the hearts and lives of his people

Thank you to Mr Gilmore for that nugget that has stayed with me!

God’s kingdom is not a place, however wonderful that might seem. It is God living in us, breathing through us, working in us. This collection of parables or analogies show both what that can do and it’s value.

A mustard seed

Such a tiny thing,
a small beginning,
hard for the eye to see,
but what it can become
when planted
and nurtured.

Then it becomes strong
and tall,
a place where others
can find safety,
refuge
and rest.

Lord,
take my faith,
however small
and fragile it fells,
grow it strong
and robust
I pray
that others may find refuge
and strength
in it
and in your presence.

Yeast

Nothing
by itself.

Only working
when activated,
mixed with ingredients
that make it grow.

Only becoming something of use
when combined with others.

And then –
what a difference it makes.
For those other elements
become something so much more too.

Lord,
my faith
is nothing by itself.
It needs other ingredients,
other people,
the right things to feed it.

Then how it grows.

Lord, may I share,
allow others to feed me
as I feed them
that together we can grow,
in faith,
in love,
in knowledge of you.

That as we do
your kingdom
will grow
in and through us,

Treasure

Your Kingdom,
your presence,
is a treasure,
valuable beyond any way we can measure.

Once discovered,
it is worthy of all that I have,
demands my everything.

For I will gain far more
than anything I have
without you.

Lord,
I offer you my all,
everything I have,
all that I am,
everything I can be

because all of that
is only worth anything
with you

and with you
what I need becomes a different question.

By Wolfgang Sauber – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62149784

A Great Pearl

I’ve been looking,
searching,
for the perfect thing.

There have been some false starts,
some things I have mistaken,
but now I have found,
the finest thing there is,
the thing that
really
completes my world.

Lord,
that is you.
Forgive me the false idols
I have chased after,
the things I thought were the answer.

But now I see
and know you.

You are what I need
and I surrender the worthless things
for The One
I really need.

By Gethmaperera – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79652919

A net of fish

What a good catch,
the nets are full,
straining under the weight
of what we have.

Until,
we stop and look
carefully.

All we have here,
is not what we need,
what we thought we had.

Amongst the food,
there is worthless stuff,
the flotsam and jetsam of life
caught up with the good.

We need to sort it out,
to discard what is no good,
to be able to appreciate
the valuable.

Help me Lord,
to sort out what I need
and what I do not,
on this journey with you.

Help me to be clear
about what will help
and what will not.

I lay the net of my life before you
and invite you to sort through it
that I may be stronger
and useful
for you.

The kingdom of God is justice and peace
And joy in the Holy Spirit
Come, Lord and open in us the gates of your kingdom

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

31 Jesus told them another parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man takes a mustard seed and sows it in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows up, it is the biggest of all plants. It becomes a tree, so that birds come and make their nests in its branches.”

The Parable of the Yeast

33 Jesus told them still another parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A woman takes some yeast and mixes it with a bushel of flour until the whole batch of dough rises.”

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

44 “The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man happens to find a treasure hidden in a field. He covers it up again, and is so happy that he goes and sells everything he has, and then goes back and buys that field.

The Parable of the Pearl

45 “Also, the Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man is looking for fine pearls, 46 and when he finds one that is unusually fine, he goes and sells everything he has, and buys that pearl.

The Parable of the Net

47 “Also, the Kingdom of heaven is like this. Some fishermen throw their net out in the lake and catch all kinds of fish. 48 When the net is full, they pull it to shore and sit down to divide the fish: the good ones go into the buckets, the worthless ones are thrown away. 49 It will be like this at the end of the age: the angels will go out and gather up the evil people from among the good 50 and will throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will cry and gnash their teeth.

New Truths and Old

51 “Do you understand these things?” Jesus asked them.

“Yes,” they answered.

52 So he replied, “This means, then, that every teacher of the Law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of heaven is like a homeowner who takes new and old things out of his storage room.”

Finding God… When You Least Expect It

Genesis 28:10-19a

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel

10 Jacob left Beersheba and started toward Haran. 11 At sunset he came to a holy place  and camped there. He lay down to sleep, resting his head on a stone. 12 He dreamed that he saw a stairway reaching from earth to heaven, with angels going up and coming down on it. 13 And there was the Lord standing beside him.  “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham and Isaac,” he said. “I will give to you and to your descendants this land on which you are lying. 14 They will be as numerous as the specks of dust on the earth. They will extend their territory in all directions, and through you and your descendants I will bless all the nations.[c] 15 Remember, I will be with you and protect you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done all that I have promised you.”

16 Jacob woke up and said, “The Lord is here! He is in this place, and I didn’t know it!” 17 He was afraid and said, “What a terrifying place this is! It must be the house of God; it must be the gate that opens into heaven.”

18 Jacob got up early next morning, took the stone that was under his head, and set it up as a memorial. Then he poured olive oil on it to dedicate it to God. 19 He named the place Bethel. 

This place,
not a place of my choosing,
a part of a journey.

A place on the way
to find my future,
my inheritance,
a blessing,
not the one I stole.

Running
from the anger
and retribution
I deserve.

Here I rest my head,
enough for today.

And there is God,
standing beside me,
promising his blessing,
this place,
an abundant future
and his protection.

I thought this was just a place,
barren,
lonely,
just where I was

but now I discover
that God is here,
this is God’s place,
a holy place.

You will be my God
and I will worship you.

I place the foundations of my life here
in you.

This Cairn lives in our house. It has rocks, stones and other special things we have collected along the way, a monument to where we have been.

Bless me Lord,
Bless us.
In this place,
here.

Where maybe I didn’t expect to find you,
in this place of running
and resting,
in the wilderness,
the barren place
that turns out to be a holy place.

May this be a place of beginning again
of true inheritance,
of discovering you,
of worship,
of foundation.

Of you.

I offer it to you
and pray that we may dwell here together.

Rebecca’s Voice

This is such a hilarious and ‘delicate’ depiction of birth that I couldn’t resist it!

Genesis 25:19-34

The Birth of Esau and Jacob
19 This is the story of Abraham’s son Isaac. 20 Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebecca, the daughter of Bethuel (an Aramean from Mesopotamia) and sister of Laban. 21 Because Rebecca had no children, Isaac prayed to the Lord for her. The Lord answered his prayer, and Rebecca became pregnant. 22 She was going to have twins, and before they were born, they struggled against each other in her womb. She said, “Why should something like this happen to me?” So she went to ask the Lord for an answer.
23 The Lord said to her,
“Two nations are within you;
You will give birth to two rival peoples.
One will be stronger than the other;
The older will serve the younger.”
24 The time came for her to give birth, and she had twin sons. 25 The first one was reddish, and his skin was like a hairy robe, so he was named Esau.[a] 26 The second one was born holding on tightly to the heel of Esau, so he was named Jacob.[b] Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.
Esau Sells His Rights as the First-Born Son
27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skilled hunter, a man who loved the outdoors, but Jacob was a quiet man who stayed at home. 28 Isaac preferred Esau, because he enjoyed eating the animals Esau killed, but Rebecca preferred Jacob.
29 One day while Jacob was cooking some bean soup, Esau came in from hunting. He was hungry 30 and said to Jacob, “I’m starving; give me some of that red stuff.” (That is why he was named Edom.[c])
31 Jacob answered, “I will give it to you if you give me your rights as the first-born son.”
32 Esau said, “All right! I am about to die; what good will my rights do me?”
33 Jacob answered, “First make a vow that you will give me your rights.”
Esau made the vow and gave his rights to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave him some bread and some of the soup. He ate and drank and then got up and left. That was all Esau cared about his rights as the first-born son.

O Lord,
you have answered my cry,
our cry
to you.
There is life within me
hope,
joy,
anticipation
dwell deep inside.

And yet,
there is not peace.
It feels more like war.
Wrangling,
struggle,
fighting for the upper hand,
the greater share
of life within me.

Why should this be?
Should the fruit of love,
the gift from you,
the next generation of life,
not be love,
harmony
and mutuality.
Can they not dwell
in peace
even inside me?

But this is not their way.
They represent two different ways,
two new beginnings,
two different kind of strength.
Each will live their own way,
seemingly always in conflict,
one caring so little for his inheritance,
the other too much.

They pain me now
and will go on to bring pain
to our family
and to each other.

But they are mine.

Lord,
I see Jacob and Esau,
warring factions
right from the start,
wanting different things,
seeing the world in different ways

and I have to stop
and wonder,
what about me?

What about your world?

What about your people?
The church?

We are all different,
with different ways,
different perspectives,
different priorities

But how do we work them out?
How do we learn to live together?
How can we be different,
but together?
Committed to going in one direction
in our different ways?

Show us how to live together
in peace
not conflict.
To live for the good of all,
but especially the weakest;
to celebrate difference
and learn from it,
not fight over it;
to share different perspectives
that we can all see a bigger picture.

Because we are all yours
and you love each one of us,
equally,
with our different gifts and insights.