Tuesday, June 3, 2014

parables and pentecost.

The kingdom of God is like a small Bible study that gathers in a church lounge each week. It is like an old missionary and a bus driver and a young pastor and a few highly mobile individuals who live with mental illness. It is like a circle of unexpected friends who speak grace every Tuesday.

The kingdom of God is like one member of this Body drowning in voices, suddenly feeling unwelcome and ashamed. And when he wanders off abruptly with tears streaming down his cheeks, it is like the prayers that fall from the lips of those who remain.

The kingdom of God is like a pastor, back with this group for the first time in months, who leaves the discussion at hand to go look for the one. It is like a pastor wandering into his favorite corner store and fast food restaurant, checking alleys and asking neighbors if they have seen him. It is like love that finds you when you are running from both the voices and the place you belong.

The kingdom of God is like a woman who lives with bipolar disorder who prays a prayer of thanks for the growing and thriving congregation you serve. It is like seeing Church through her eyes: something always rising and always living - even though the trends and numbers and markers of this world would say otherwise.

The kingdom of God is like a coffee table filled with Bibles of every English translation - some in large print and some in Braille. It is like the Eucharistic Table because it is a feast of the Word and proof of God's wide, inclusive love. It is like the story you are reading that morning that says, "I will pour out my Spirit onto all flesh...how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?"

The kingdom of God is like a quiet pastoral office nestled in the back of the church, where God's people feel safe and honest. It is like the space where the lips of strong leaders quiver as they confess their exhaustion, their burdens, their overwhelming responsibilities. And it is like a pastor who says, "Then put it down. God cares more about you than that ministry or line item". It is like the calm she feels in telling that truth, even though she does not have a Plan B for that ministry or line item.

The kingdom of God is like shin-high grass on the south lawn, itching to be mowed by a sweaty volunteer - a symbol of abundant life that surrounds a weary, but feisty and passionate congregation. It is like the new annuals just planted - rising high and waving back and forth in the breeze - blown around by the Holy Spirit who promises to be with us until the end of the age. Even when sheep are missing and circles are quirky and servants are tired.

Even then.

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