July 27, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 (NRSV)
Jesus put before the crowds another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
Where have you seen the kingdom of heaven?
This week for me. . .
The kingdom of heaven is like an eleven-year-old reading the Scripture reading, barely tall enough to reach the microphone, struggling to pronounce Beer-sheeba.
The kingdom of heaven is like a room full of people you haven’t seen for three years, finally meeting again.
The kingdom of heaven is like a very good actor reading a very sad and lovely poem.
The kingdom of heaven is like the first, most perfect sip of a cup of morning coffee, brought to you by a loved one who has been away for a time and has just come home to stay.
The kingdom of heaven is like knowing when to say goodbye to a ministry you are no longer called to.
The kingdom of heaven is like opening a box and finding it full of things with your mother’s handwriting on them.
The kingdom of heaven is like the little rainbows that formed behind the wheels of the car in front of me as I drove into the sunset and the rain.
The kingdom of heaven is like people showing up to a church for charity Kroger gift cards and also getting hot dogs.
The kingdom of heaven is like opening a book and returning to Narnia again because the greatest stories never get old.
The kingdom of heaven is like a letter that came in the postal mail for my daughter with a stamp on it.
The kingdom of heaven is like a webcam letting me glimpse a place I dearly love from over 3500 miles away.
The kingdom of heaven is like the song they played at the funeral for the young girl who died far too soon, the song which made us cry and also laugh.
The kingdom of heaven is like the hanging basket of petunias that was surely dead and has begun to bloom again.
The kingdom of heaven is like the wedding invitation for the dear people who are so perfect together and who met by a strange and beautiful accident.
And you? Where have you seen the kingdom of heaven this week?
Reflect on the question that ends the devotion.
And—the kingdom of heaven is like the fact that just as I finished this devotion and began to think what song I would share with you for contemplation and worship, my very favorite Charles Wesley hymn began to play on my Spotify playlist. Now you can listen to it too as you reflect and pray.
(Prayer for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost in the Book of Common Prayer) O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Banner image by Jian Xhin on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The Mustard Seed Kingdom.
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Jennifer Woodruff Tait (PhD, Duke University) is the editor of and frequent contributor to Life for Leaders. She is also the managing editor of Christian History magazine and web editor for the Theology of Work Project, and a priest in the Episcopal Church. She has written a book of poetry, Histories of Us. Jennifer lives in Berea, Kentucky, with her husband, Edwin, and their two daughters.
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