God’s Reign is Like A Woman Adding Yeast: Rev. Judy’s Homily for OT16-7/20/14
I love the Scriptures that the church uses for worship for the 16th Sunday in “Ordinary time”. They address the question: What is the reign of God like? What is the kingdom of God like? What is the kin-dom of God like? and primarily: what is God like?
The first reading from Wisdom 12:13-19 says that our God “cares for every living thing” and that God gives us good grounds for hope that we can be forgiven when we goof big time/sin. Sometimes, today’s theology can be too ethereal and make God into a principle for life living in everything-like DNA,some even say that God is not about caring for us. But this Scripture says otherwise and I believe it and know it through so much that happens to me and to our people.
On Thursday, Flora, one of our women with a professional background was experiencing much stress and was in the midst of a complete mental breakdown. We were called but got there just in time to see her throw the last of her belongings into her car and begin to drive off abandoning her home. “They” were after her and she was going to escape “them” in her car. We were able to get her to come inside and soothe her. She was totally incoherent but very frightened at the voices and “men” hounding her. We did not know that she had experienced a break once before in the past and with all of my clinical and pastoral experience, and having witnessed other psychotic breaks, I had never seen a breakdown of organized and rational thinking like this. I comforted her with gentle reality and invited her to come with us to a new Psychiatric hospital where she could get good treatment. In a moment of sheer grace, she accepted the invitation and later that day was accepted for a voluntary inpatient stay. She was so relieved that she thanked God profusely. One minute later she would have been gone in her car with fear at the wheel. Thanks be to God for caring for every living being!!!
The Psalm (86:5-16) reinforces our God is “abounding in kindness to all who call upon God”. And the epistle says that the Spirit of God comes to the aid of our weakness and even prays for us with “inexpressible groanings”. Indeed God heard the incoherent prayer of Flora and interceded so that she did not take flight when she desperately wanted safety and help.
In the parables of Jesus in Matthew 13 we learn again this week that God is sowing the seeds of the “kingdom/kin-dom” in everyone and we don’t know which will be the seed that comes to full maturity and productivity to enhance the reign of God. Last Sunday I brought some seeds to church and some little pots and had the children plant the seeds in the pot and in the planter outside. Some are growing already and some are not. The inside ones have been watered equally but some did not sprout and the outside ones are watered by the rains. We can’t judge what is going to happen but we will see as the little plants grow. Jesus is clear in the parable that the sower is God’s Chosen One, God is the sower, Jesus, the Christ is the sower. We are all the seed. Last week we thought about the conditions in life,the soil, that can nourish or choke out the seed. This week we learn again that God is sowing and the kindom will grow and flourish in many of us. The other readings illuminate that the nature of God,love, is also to be the nature of God’s reign: caring for all living beings with love and justice. Indeed there is a lot of war and hatred and violence in today’s world and materialism that chokes out goodness, BUT there are also endless examples of love and compassion and justice. In our News here in SWFl, there is an attempt to share stories of the individuals who make a difference in the world by their extraordinary efforts. Yesterday I had the honor of blessing 3 Habitat For Humanity Homes as one of our members, Liliana, received the keys for her own new home as did two others. The joy in the room was palpable. Corporate generosity, the giving of money and labor and time, and community labor, including from Lili and our own church members, and Jimmy Carter’s vision that poor people should own homes, made this miracle of homes for the poor possible. This is what the kingdom/kindom of God looks like- it is in our midst.
My favorite part of the Gospel for today is where Jesus says that God’s reign is like a woman folding a very little bit of fermenting yeast into a huge amount of flour. First,we note that “the farmer” is a metaphor for God as is “the woman” who is the baker. This is is Jesus talking revolutionary talk-in essence God is described in feminine terms-as a woman fermenting the dough!! This would have shocked his listeners who saw God in male terms. Also, Jesus saw the growth of the kindom as a fermenting process-this is a process of “corrupting”/breaking apart the dough so something new and tasty will emerge.This is a covert action. We are to be the ferment in the dough-the leaven in the world and in the church. We are to shake things up like Jesus did until we get it right. We are to make the church inclusive of all, at the Table, and in the priesthood-that all of God’s people may be served at Communion and with all of the Sacraments and may serve as priests and pastors of God’s people. And, we pray that we have the courage to ferment-to struggle with the poor and outcast for economic equality and justice.
We thank our loving God, our Mother/Father God for loving us, each and every one and seeking justice for all God’s people.
We are all in the same boat!!!
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee ARCWP