As I was researching for grounding on the gospel, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52, for this Sunday, I was struck by a thought. In Dear Working Preacher Karoline Lewis talks about how we may envision the Kingdom of Heaven depending on a variety of factors. One vision might possibly involve clouds and harps. I was kind of taken aback by this. All through the research I had been doing I was so focused on the Kingdom of Heaven being in this earthly world - a sort of here but not yet reality. The parables of this passage make much more sense to me this way.
It raised a question for me. If I say the phrase - Kingdom of Heaven - what is your immediate image? Do you see it here on earth (but not quite yet) or do you see it as something after this life? But then I don't think it really is a case of either/or. It is a case of both/and. I was just struck by the fact that I don't picture Jesus, in saying these parables, as talking about what happens after death or after judgment day. I will be honest, I don't know that I really believe in end times. For me, the Kingdom is always achievable here in this time and place. I see the Kingdom coming when "heaven" and earth are both in sync with each other. In the case of this Sunday's gospel I think that the very commonness of the images that Jesus is using does speak to the Kingdom of Heaven being achievable on earth. There is also the tense that is used - The Kingdom of Heaven is like ... . It doesn't say - The Kingdom of Heaven will be like ... .
What would you want the Kingdom of Heaven to be like? Is it a here and now possibility for you? Or is it more a future/different reality possibility? Does focusing on the latter devalue the earthly reality in which we now live? Does the latter vision mean there is no hope for the physical?
I don't get weighed down by the idea of what may happen after death. That may be why I don't automatically envision the Kingdom of Heaven as an after death or end time reality only. I leave all that future/different reality stuff to God. I have always trusted in God's love for me helping me in the here and now. This also extends into the future possibilities.
I figure that God expects me to worry about and to work in the here and now. After all the Lord's Prayer mentions the Kingdom being when God's will is being done on earth as it is in heaven.
Just some random thoughts on a cloudy, cool day.
Love and Prayers,