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We have just entered a new kingdom, here in the UK, having had a queen for seventy years. Which was the inspiration for thinking about Kingdom at Soul Space.
The kingdom of God contrasts with all the pomp and ceremony that we've seen in our own kingdom, around the funeral of Elizabeth II. It contrasts with the narrative of empire, that was the predominant culture reference for the writers of the New Testament, who very deliberately contrasted the Good News of Jesus with the Good News of the Roman Empire. The emperor would send out messengers with Good News all round the empire. Which wasn't necessarily good news, if you weren't the emperor!
We thought about parables of the kingdom. The hidden yeast that works through the dough without drawing attention to itself. The pearl of great price. Finding the kingdom is a source of great joy. It's of immense value. Worth finding. Or maybe it's that we are the pearl of great price that the King is delighted to find and will sacrifice everything to have.
The parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the running father speak of a God who is prepared to leave the 99 sheep to find the one that is lost, to hold a party on finding a coin that probably costs more than the value of the coin that was lost. The exuberant God, who sows seed abundantly, knowing that not all the soil will bear fruit but scattering the seed generously anyway. The invitation of the Kingdom is to let ourselves be found by this God. Whose greatest delight is that we should let her find us.
Jesus has no interest in the preservation of borders and boundaries, but instead extends a welcome that transgresses borders and invites us to transgress them too. To be emissaries of a Kingdom that extends a welcome, an embrace, to all who will accept the invitation.
In exploring the Kingdom, we thought about some parables of the kingdom that troubled us. The parable of the ten virgins, where the ones with oil won't share. The parable of the talents, where the servant who buried his talent loses even the talent he's been given. We wondered how much our reading of these parables was coloured by a theology of exclusion and whether we could look at them differently.
Taize chant - the kingdom of God: