July 28, 2002

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Another story. " God's kingdom is like a pine nut that a farmer plants. It is quite small as seeds go, but in the course of years it grows into a huge pine tree, and eagles build nests in it."

Another story. "God's kingdom is like yeast that a woman works into the dough for dozens of loaves of barley bread--and waits while the dough rises."


"God's kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidently found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic - what a find! - and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field.

"Or, God's kingdom is like a jewel merchant on the hunt for excellent pearls. Finding one that is flawless, he immediately sells everything and buys it.

"Or, God's kingdom is like a fishnet cast into the sea, catching all kinds of fish. When it is full, it is hauled onto the beach. The good fish are picked out and put in a tub; those unfit to eat are thrown away That's how it will be when the curtain comes down on history. The angels will come and cull the bad fish and throw them in the garbage. There will be a lot of desperate complaining, but it won't do any good."

Jesus asked, "Are you starting to get a handle on all this?"

They answered, "Yes."

He said, "Then you see how every student well-trained in God's kingdom is like the owner of a general store who can put his hands on anything you need, old or new, exactly when you need it."

<The Message>


1. The missing material has been covered in the last couple of weeks. This leaves a series of stories about the value and growth of the presence of GOD. Are we starting to grasp how important dealing with the vision of GOD is? The easy response is "yes," but we know that we are now back to what started all this story-telling in the first place. Immediately after this Jesus goes back to his hometown, back to the family of origin he could dismiss, back to causing too much trouble for the home folk and too close to them to be heard beyond their projections of who he should be.

It is almost as if Jesus through his story-telling talked himself into believing he had what it took to go back and be more effective with the home folk. It turned out that he didn't. It will turn out that he was just as ineffective with the religious and political leaders.

2. Yet, even if it turns out that we are ineffective. The stories do keep us going because if we don't give the home folk a second chance, we have not lived up to our best. So let's tell the stories again and again. Small seeds can grow and old dogs can learn new tricks. Unclean yeast can be a blessing and the last can become first. Treasures of all kinds can motivate to action and still small voices of all kinds can rekindle purpose of life. GOD is involved with everything, good and bad alike, and what goes around will come around.

3. Having gotten some of this into our lives we can relax enough to deal with situations as they arise without having to program life around us. There are not just four steps (or seven or any other number of steps) to conversion to living from above. We don't deal with everyone in the same manner. With these and many other stories we are set free to tell the most helpful story for the situation we are living through. And tomorrow we can tell a story with a whole different slant. The better trained in story-telling we are the more we can be involved with individuals and cultures. In fact we can tell the same story to different people and for different purposes or different stories to the same people to make the same point. With all these different stories we can risk going where it is almost guaranteed that we will fail. With all these different stories we find we are renewed. Stories as a source of freedom - who would have guessed?!

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