The Kingdom of Heaven is like . . .

The Kingdom of Heaven is like . . .

Dear Friends,

On Sunday, we engage Jesus’ description of the Kingdom of Heaven for a third week. Already we have learned that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a sower who sowed seed everywhere, and a second sower whose good seed was compromised by weeds. This week Jesus throws five new images at us, all in an effort to describe what God’s work among us looks like: a mustard seed, yeast, hidden treasure, a merchant, a net. (Matthew 13.31-33, 44-52) Even Jesus struggles to describe it.

With your permission, I add another image to the conversation, an image of the Kingdom of Heaven that captures, for me, the significance of the seemingly insignificant, when used for God’s purposes.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a cup of tea.

For almost eight years, every Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. in a previous parish, I visited my friend and neighbor for a cup of tea. The tea conversations began over shared congregational concerns: she served on our Mutual Ministry Committee and coordinated our Homebound Ministry. Initially, we met to discuss that work, but gradually those work conversations turned into a friendship, and we rarely missed our Thursday tea conversations. In eight years.

I realized, standing at the post office this week to mail her birthday gift, that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a cup of tea with a friend. Seemingly insignificant. Remarkably ordinary. Bursting with life and hope and strength. Over tea, she and I shared one another’s joys and sorrows, prayed for our families and friends, reviewed books, discussed matters both trivial and profound. Those tea dates were most life-giving in the year I was forced to practice social distancing because I was on medical leave for cancer treatment. My health was too precarious, my energy too diminished to risk engagement with the world. For a full year, I ventured no further than the treatment center and a few friends’ homes. I was physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually distant from most of the world.

During that year of cancer treatment, I was not always able to keep our weekly appointment. But on those Thursdays when I had even a scrap of energy, I found my way to her kitchen table for tea. I was safe there. I was loved there. I could be honest there. I could laugh and cry there—sometimes simultaneously. It might seem like a small thing—a cup of tea—but if you have ever had such a friend, you will understand:

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a cup of tea.

As we physically distance from one another because of the pandemic, we find joy and courage from small things. On Sunday we offer such a small thing (weather permitting). We invite you to the Celebration of Life Garden for an opportunity to share the Lord’s Supper. Briefly. Simply. Keeping our distance. But I long for that meal now as I long for a cup of tea with a friend 1,000 miles away.

I trust you see the Kingdom of Heaven, evidence of God, in tiny things in your life. A cup of tea. An unexpected kindness. A “smeyes” (smiling only with the eyes while masked) from a stranger. A peaceful night’s sleep. What does the Kingdom of Heaven look like for you? That ordinary thing that reveals God’s extraordinary goodness?

Perhaps we will see one another on Sunday for Communion in the Garden. Perhaps we will be present only through our fondness for one another and our shared confidence in God’s goodness. Regardless of how or when we see one another, know that signs of the Kingdom of Heaven are all around.

Pastor JoAnn Post

PS Happy Birthday! I wish we could share a cup of birthday tea.

 

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