Exploring the Kingdom of God

Barbara led us at in the park, beginning with these words:

Live Simply

Compassionate and loving God,

you created the world for us all to share,

a world of beauty and plenty.

Create in us a desire to live simply,

so that our lives may reflect your generosity.

Creator God,

God of peace and justice,

You give us the capacity to change,

to bring about a world that mirrors your wisdom.

Create in us a desire to act in solidarity,

so that the pillars of injustice crumble

and those now crushed are set free.


Linda Jones / CAFOD

I have been thinking a lot about the Kingdom of God recently and although I understand something of what Jesus means when he talks of the Kingdom, to me it is still something of a mystery.

When I first became a Christian, I thought you joined the Kingdom of God automatically and pledged fealty to God.  As someone who loves history, I knew people in the past knelt at the feet of the king and pledged to serve him, and in doing this they became faithful members of his kingdom. As a new Christian I thought my task was to bring as many people as possible into that Kingdom.

That was my simple way of understanding what the Kingdom of God is.  

So, what about the mystery?

Well Jesus says a lot of things which to me seem to say it’s more than just doing evangelism.

“The kingdom of God is at hand.”          

“The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that grows into a huge tree”

“The kingdom of God is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

“The kingdom of God is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

What is Jesus saying?

To me, he seems to be saying that being part of God’s Kingdom means we should act to spread something of God’s love in all that we do. It might mean we have to sacrifice; it may only be little things; we might not even realise we are having an effect.

I came across a Dave Tomlinson video on Work of the People which I found interesting. He calls the Kingdom of God “The Quiet Revolution” and talks about the butterfly effect.

He says, “part of the programme of God’s Kingdom is to be devoted to a programme of change, both within ourselves and in society as a whole.”

Yeast put into bread and mustard seeds planted are small things that grow. We must embrace our smallness, ineffectualness and hopelessness, and give our widows mite so that it can be part of something greater.

We think of movements that started small and grew into something great. The ending of Apartheid, the fall of the Berlin wall.  Lots of people committing themselves to doing little things who brought about massive change. When Rosa Parks refused to sit at the back of the bus, I don’t think she could imagine the effect that had.

Desmond Tutu said:

“The biggest defining moment in my life was when I saw Trevor Huddleston and I was maybe nine or so.

I didn’t know it was Trevor Huddleston, but I saw this tall, white priest in a black cassock doff his hat to my mother who was a domestic worker.

I didn’t know then that it would have affected me so much, but it was something that was, really – it blew your mind that a white man would doff his hat.

And subsequently I discovered, of course, that this was quite consistent with his theology that every person is of significance, of infinite value, because they are created in the image of God.

And the passion with which he opposed apartheid, and any other injustice is something that I sought then to emulate.”

The Kingdom of God comes in littleness but can have great impact in the end. As with the chaos theory – small things have a greater effect down the road. Having faith should lead you to doing little things, knowing that something can come of this.


If we remember the “Love is” cartoons …

My task is for you to come up with your own saying to follow on from The Kingdom of Heaven is …

Take some time and write it on the butterfly shaped paper.

Prayers based on the prayer of St Frances.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Like that of Christ, our mission on earth is to bring to others God’s peace. God’s state of “perfect well-being” and completeness. Shalom is the Hebrew word for this rich concept of “peace.” Often used as a greeting of peace, Shalom is a wish that those so greeted will find healing and fullness of life.

Pray that you can bring Shalom to those you meet this coming week.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Saint Francis tells his followers, “Our Lord says in the Gospel, Love your enemies (Matthew 5: 44). If we feel offence, injury, anger, hurt or rejection how do we handle that is the light of loving our enemies.

Pray for those we know who need to know love.

Where there is injury, pardon,
During the violence-ridden Crusades, Francis discovered a path of peace, pardon and non-violence. The “little poor man” went to Egypt to engage in a peaceful dialogue with the sultan, a meeting in which a spirit of forgiveness, respect and understanding prevailed. Francis would have the same message for those in our times who are so quick to see violence as the only cure for terrorism.

Pray for the miracle of God’s peace to be in the hearts of those who lead in our world.

Where there is doubt, faith,

Pray for those who have lost faith or who have their faith sorely challenged ask God to show you ways that can restore faith to those people.

Where there is despair, hope/Where there is darkness, light,
Think of Saint Francis following Jesus example and embracing lepers and lovingly washing their sores. Surely, many of those suffering souls felt an inner surge of hope and human dignity when they experienced care.

Pray for the strength to show care and love in difficult situations

And where there is sadness, joy.
Francis used to say that he wanted his followers to go about the world like strolling minstrels, “to inspire the hearts of people and stir them to spiritual joy.” They give us an example to follow in our own day!

Pray that we will be like those strolling minstrels and inspire the hearts of people we meet who feel sadness

For ourselves we pray

Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand and to be loved as to love

Pray for awareness that

It is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned ,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Bread and Wine

Jesus – bread breaker, wine pourerTable sharer, life giver, poor blesser, storm sleeper, blame taker,Scroll reader, mask exposer, sheep steerer, wave treader,Tempest calmer, truth wielder, light extruder, crowd amazer,Life enhancer, peacemaker, grace ladler, Spirit breatherTruth teacher, friend maker, bread breaker we remember you. Food blesser, cross bearer, law revealer, temple cleanser,God revealer, story weaver, hurt healer,Desert victor, death drinker, justice bringer,Sight restorer, sin forgiver, wine renewer.Death defeater, foot washer, wine pourer we thank you.   

I don’t have the examples everyone came up with for their ‘The Kingdom of God is like…’ but they were amazingly creative and thought-provoking. Have a go! The morning left us freshly inspired and we agreed later in the week that we were still thinking about it! Thanks Barbara.