Clarity

 In Featured, Pastor Paul's Blog

By Pastor Paul Gauche

Today’s Word: ‘Clarity’ as in… seeing 2020.

We’re more than halfway through 2020, so why not revisit New Year’s resolutions, right?

On New Year’s Day 2020 Nancy Lee and I gathered with our small group for the “Annual One Word Collaborative; an afternoon of conversation about the one word that each of us had chosen as a life-lens for the year ahead. I announced my word for 2020: ‘Clarity.’ You know, like clear vision. ‘Clarity’ as in seeing 20/20. In every area of my life with my family, friends, and with you all, I wanted to make 2020 the year of new vision, new possibilities. I was excited to see everything differently; to look at life in ways I’d never imagined before.

Well, mission accomplished, right?

Within 10 weeks everything had changed. Almost overnight and whether we were ready for it or not, all of us were seeing everything differently. Now, moving just past the six-month mark, we’re still looking at every aspect of life differently. Healthcare, education, race relations, religion, stewardship, politics, spirituality – and the list goes on – we’re seeing all of that very differently.

The mantra of the world that we left behind was something like: “The more things change the more things stay the same.” Not anymore. The new world that we’ve already moved into is a place where nearly daily “The more things change, the more things keep changing.” In this new world we’re discovering the need to be even more aware of our social responsibilities during the ongoing pandemic; even more intentional about walking into relationship with our neighbors near and far; even more faithful in our response to the Spirit’s leading often into places of deep discomfort.

In Matthew’s gospel (chapter 13:31-33, 44-47) Jesus compares the ever-present and always unfolding Kingdom of Heaven to point to such common things as a tiny seed, a pinch of yeast, a field-full-of-treasure, a pearl, a fishing net.

Let’s consider each one:

Jesus used parables – ordinary, and often very short stories to point to the extraordinary presence of the Kingdom of heaven in our midst. Take a minute to consider all of the seemingly insignificantly places where the essence of the kingdom of heaven emerges. Keep in mind that the phrases “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of Heaven” are synonymous. Matthew used the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” because his Jewish audience held the name of God with such reverence that they avoided using it. Reading Matthew 13:31-32 ask yourself why Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven with the smallest of all seeds?

In Matthew 13:33, the little amount of yeast that the woman used may only have been a pinch or two; not much more than that. But the “three measures of flour” would have been close to 17.5 gallons of flour. But the yeast “…permeated every part of the dough.” Just when we think that illuminating the Kingdom of Heaven is a big, big job, we run into this parable. How do you understand this in the context of doing your part to illuminate the kingdom of heaven in your life?

How does this small parable in verse 44 remind you of what’s most important in your life? Have you ever “just had to have something” that caused you to sacrifice something else to obtain it? Why do you think the man in the parable did what he did? What was so valuable to him that he did this? How do you see yourself in this parable?

The parable of the pearl in Matthew 13:45-46, much like the parable of the field of treasure should motivate us to consider what’s really most important in our lives. What do we value most and why? But let’s turn the question around today: How have others made sacrifices of love for you? What kinds of sacrifices have others made in order to illuminate the kingdom of heaven for you?

In Matthew 13:47, we find the parable of the fishing net. Why does Jesus use the image of a fishing net? What does it catch? Who casts the net? What is the significance to Jesus’s point here that it “caught fish of every kind?” How do these images speak to you? What is the point of these ancient parables in the context of the Kingdom of Heaven?

The Kingdom of Heaven is ever-present and always unfolding. But could it be that we’ve made it far too complicated? If The Promise is present in the little, everyday things, then The Promise is present in the complicated things as well.

#100days50words

Paul Gauche is the Pastor of Life Transitions at Prince of Peace. His posts are part of his #100days50words project, where be blogs about a different word each day. You can follow his project on Instagram (@pgauche), or on his blog, Thriving Rhythms.

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