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Riddle Me This! Jesus’ Way with the Word.

Matthew 13:31-34, 44-49

Pentecost 12+, Common Lectionary Year A

©Rev. Elisabeth R. Jones

When you hear the name ‘Jesus’
what does that signify for you?
Who is he?
And what about his life story
is ‘essentially’ Jesus for you?

For some a healer, a forgiver, a miracle worker,
Son of God,Son of Mary,a teacher,a mystic.
One who made time to be with those whom the world ignores, or despises.
One who had this uncanny knack
of using words to help us see God,
to love God, to trust God.
For me, Jesus was a master storyteller,
a riddler, a Dream Weaver…

Now, an aside here:
When Jesus speaks of the vision of God
for humanity in relation to creation,
he calls it “ the Kingdom of God.”

There’s nothing wrong with that word,
and it was one carefully chosen by Jesus,
to convey a sense of a whole other way
of being a citizen of the world
than just being a peon of an empire of Rome,
or Great Britain, or America…
But “kingdom”… it’s a bit cold isn’t it,
a bit masculine, a bit rigid, structured, contained.
It doesn’t convey the heart of God,
the wistful mysterious, loving desire of God,
and for that, we here at Cedar Park,
we’ve taken into our vernacular
the language of Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
who calls this kingdom, present and yet to be,
the Dream of God.

Let me quote Tutu:
God has a Dream … “It is a dream of a world whose ugliness and squalor and poverty, its war and hostility, its greed and harsh competitiveness, its alienation and disharmony are transfigured into their glorious counterparts, when there will be laughter, joy, peace, where there will be justice, and goodness and compassion and love and caring and sharing… “[1] God’s Dream. God’s Kingdom.

And Jesus was God’s Dream weaver.

To what can God’s Dream be compared? He asked.
What might it look like if God’s Dream kingdom
were here, now?
Jesus believed with all his heart,
that this God Dream was here,
and there, and anywhere and everywhere,
and then and now…
but not in crowns, and palaces,
and statutes and declarations,
not in armies, not in majestic anything…

This Dream Kingdom,
Jesus weaves into homespun tales,
using ordinary things,
insignificant things, hidden things, precious things,
the quotidian tools of ordinary living
in his time and place,
nets, and yeast, seeds, merchants, human longings,
hunger, thirst, nature, people….
With these he proclaimed that God is with us.
To his own generation:
“We are not alone in this world of Romans eating our children’s food,”
To ours, “We are not alone in this world where we’ve been reduced to an infinite number
of forgettable identification passcodes,
The Kingdom, the Dream of God is here.”

Absurd! Ridiculous, worthy of laughter,
these parables, these riddles of the mystery of God.
Surreptitious, they speak of things we barely notice,
they are signals that go unheeded
by those blinded by their quest for grandness…
they fly beneath the radar of those
on the lookout for threats to their privilege.
These homely little tales of leaven in the lump,
and coins in the soil,
are the messages stitched into the coat-lining of the resistance,
their comedic simplicity is Ewok-like,
but don’t be fooled,
little fuzzy creatures can bring down a death star!

Make no mistake, good people of the Way of Jesus,
children of the Dreamer God,
these parables of Jesus are glimpses of another world- God’s world and Way hidden right here in this one, God’s Dream where the unleavened ugliness of the systems of dominance, of scarcity and segregation are subverted by the beauty, the joy and laughter of souls and bodies free to love without limit!
God’s Kingdom Dream, that’s what it is, joy!
Laughter! Freedom to express giftedness, unique loveliness, where no fish hauled in the net
– no human – is the wrong kind,
where every bird in flight- every creature –
has a place of shelter,
where pearls are worthy of the search, and the price,
where God’s hidden goodness is to be cherished.

Once, not too long ago,
if I had tried to point to the shadows of
systems that frankly have conferred on most of us here global, unmerited privilege, and physical comfort,
it would have made many of us squirm,
in mild or worse offense,
knowing ourselves to be at heart, good people.

But now, we see how thin the veneer of order is,
how easily people sell out principle to power,
how dangerous the unhinged empires of this world can be
not to us, perhaps, yet,
but to those who – according to the kingdoms of this world,
are the wrong sort of fish, not worthy of shelter,
people deemed to be the wrong colour,
the wrong religion, the wrong gender.

It is for times such as these that Jesus the Riddler,
the Dream Weaver casts these parables of resistance,
if we will listen, if we will dream too,
if we ourselves are willing to become these
parables of God’s Kingdom Dream.

What might that look like,
to be Parables of God’s Dream here, now?
To what may the Kingdom of God be compared in us?

Let me try this, and when you’re ready, join in with your own parable. If you feel so inspired, create a parable to add to our creed panels following worship (post it)

The kingdom Dream of God is like an affirming community
with a rainbow message of resistance against discrimination.

The kingdom Dream of God is like a community that levels the walkway so no-one of limited mobility is barred entry, because all are welcome.

The kingdom Dream of God is like a community that raised $40K to give refuge to foreign strangers of another religion, and call them friend.

The kingdom Dream of God is like a neighbour and a toddler who together mow the lawn for a family in grief.

The Kingdom Dream of God is like tomato plants growing up between the gladioli, a feast for the birds, the bees, and the butterflies

The Kingdom Dream of God is like the woman who gave a van ride to a family she’d never met so they could experience a campfire for the first time.

The Kingdom Dream of God is like a hall filled to the brim with families eating home-cooked food together, and not having to earn it.

The Kingdom Dream of God is treasured like a tea-light in the hand of a child whispering her visions of holiness….

Do you see, them, seeds sown, yeast hidden,
Do you see parables of God’s Dream in one another,
in this body of people together?
Subverting the harsh brutalities of the world
with love, justice, and joy.

I do!
You are the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
Parole faite chair

[1] Desmond Tutu, God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time., p.19-20.

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