Jesus’ Kingdom of Joy

by Rev. Ellie Barrington with Howard Clark performing John Shea’s “The Storyteller of God” Poem - September 22, 2013 A reflection on Matthew 13:31-32, 33, 44, 45-46 and John 15:11 Listen to the audio recording

Jesus – our wisdom teacher – is a master of metaphor and a prophet of justice and joy. Today let’s let him lead us by his puzzling parables and prophetic actions, into the Kingdom of God here and now. Let us let loose our creative imaginations to soar on his metaphors; touching down in a place where our hearts and minds might just break open to Jesus’ reality, to the reality that God is – God is – encompassing, creating love…yearning us to be joy-full – fulfilled.

Our scripture readings today start from the children’s Joyful Path lesson on Jesus’ Path and Teachings. These verses are short parables to lead us via our imaginations into Jesus’ vision of God’s Kingdom of justice and joy.

So – welcome – to the world of Jesus’ upside down kingdom, where we are invited to stand on our heads and laugh aloud at what is considered ‘normal’ in our world.

Welcome – to Jesus Way of doing things, where doing the right thing – which might just be the left thing – feels so fulfilling.

Welcome to the Kin-dom of God – on earth just as it is in heaven. A heavenly place where our experience of God expands, till our chests expand with joy.

Lets let the biblical images that remind us of Jesus, reminding us of God, pry open our minds. Let’s let his parables puzzle us and point us in new directions. Let’s let the confusion of his revolution spin us around till we see things from a new perspective. Let’s dare to be disturbed by the dramas in his stories, so that we let them influence our own life narratives.


Matthew 13:31-32

Jesus put before them 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.’

Hear him? Jesus, sowing the tiny round mustard seeds of an expansive new God awareness. Fertile seeds of a magnificent tree of life where we can ALL safely nest and find roost and rest in God’s arms.

Matthew 13:33

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.’

Jesus, tearing up the yeasty bread of justice to share it with us, leavening our courage and hope till we rise to the acts of compassion that will feed the whole world.

Matthew 13:44

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.

Jesus, drawing us a treasure map, showing us where to invest in the real estate of the heart -, our deepest human values.

Matthew 13:45-46

‘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.

Jesus, stringing pearls of wisdom and promise for our spiritual search, so that we will find our way on his path to that pearl of great price, the love of God that adorns the Kingdom of justice and joy.

Let’s keep listening to what Jesus has to say, and come into the Kingdom here and now.

Why? Why not go for the joy of it!

John 15:11

I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

Now let’s sing our collective commitment to following Jesus’ path – and then enjoy Howard Clark, embodying the poetry of John Shea, who wrote about Jesus as “The Storyteller of God”.

He Came Singing Love VU# 359





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