We started in the cold at the bandstand listening nonetheless to birdsong in the trees, reading the following:
Psalm 19: 1-4
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
Psalm 104 Selected verses
He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.
The trees of the LORD are well watered…
There the birds make their nests…
He made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down.
How many are your works, LORD!
In wisdom you made them all.
The kingdom of God is near!
It is all around us,
springing up in the park,
sparking light in Matlock,
pushing into darkness across the nation,
conquering evil throughout the earth;
An unstoppable force
out there and within us.
The kingdom is near, is here, is coming!
Turn. Turn. DANCE…
And believe the good news!
Wendy led the session, sharing new insights for her into the kingdom of God, with input from The Gospel of Thomas – Read on! This is what everyone got to read and do:
The Gospel of Thomas
These are 114 sayings of Jesus, found on parchment in Egypt in 1945. Although it is difficult to be sure of a date of origin, most scholars now believe that it is a very early collections of Jesus’s sayings which had circulated at the time of the oral tradition. Some dismiss it as Gnostic – and therefore a heretical twisting or invention of ‘Christian’ teachings, but little in it is a clear fit with this claim. Indeed, 50% of this ‘lost’ Gospel is identical to or very close to words of Jesus found in the canonical Gospels. Included are the following teachings known to us on the kingdom of God: The parable of the sower; the mustard seed; the wheat and the tares; the rich fool; the banquet; the tenants in the vineyard; the pearl; the yeast; the treasure and the lost sheep.
The following are not in our Gospels. What, if anything might they have to offer to us?
In this translation the kingdom of God is translated as ‘The Father’s [or Heaven’s} imperial rule’ – or ‘the Father’s domain’’
3 Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the (Father’s) imperial rule is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father’s) imperial rule is inside you and outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty.”
97 Jesus said, The [Father’s] imperial rule is like a woman who was carrying a [jar] full of meal. While she was walking along [a] distant road, the handle of the jar broke and the meal spilled behind her [along] the road. She didn’t know it; she hadn’t noticed a problem. When she reached her house, she put the jar down and discovered that it was empty.
1, What is your interpretation of these sayings?
2. What would you say the kingdom of God is like, in today’s terms? Create a ‘The kingdom of God is… / The kingdom of God is like…’ saying.
3. Write a line or two for a creed ‘We believe that the kingdom of God….’
Just for fun – what do you think of the following?
77 Jesus said, “I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.”
4. Where do you find God? Jot down some examples.
We shared answers to all of these, created our creed and shared stories of finding the kingdom in Cool River café over a much needed hot drink, after praying for God’s kingdom to come in us and without in our world, using feathers blown into the park and sharing bread and wine.
We finished in the café with a blessing:
And so may we be inspired in this coming week
to be conduits of light and love and faith and forgiveness
to become thin places
to proclaim that the kingdom of God is near.
May we have the renewed passion to join Christ’s mission
to be part of what he is doing
in the inexorable coming of his kingdom!
I hope this inspires anyone reading this to see the kingdom in the coming week and to be part of it!