So, Jesus can be quite frustrating can't he?? On the surface, his teachings have a nice, warm, almost inviting tone but then upon closer examination we find a degree of surprise, even subversiveness.
Take Sunday's readings...a mustard seed which is small grows into something big. Sure, that sounds like the kingdom of heaven, but then we look again and wonder why in the world a farmer would sow a field of mustard seeds. Who needs that much mustard? Or, take the yeast and flour. This is a lovely image of yeast working in flour much like the gospel works in each of us. But, upon closer examination we find that the amount of flour was enormous and to prepare that much with yeast could only mean that the woman intended to feed the whole community, that day! These surprises tucked neatly into the otherwise calm parables incite within us a response of both joy and fear, warmth and reluctance.
On the one hand, we love the image of the kingdom in all its power and strenght, while on the other hand we struggle with its sloppy categories of who's in and who's out, of what's required and when. These parables challenge us because like the kingdom the parables enter into our neat and ordered lives unnoticed only to upset the proverbial "apple cart" and cause us to scramble this way and that trying to reassign order to now disturbed notions about life, order, and the sensible rationality we all seek.
The kingdom is breaking in all around us these days...through voices long silenced, through changing political alliances, through barriers softly coming down, and through small congregations doing powerful, Gospel-filled ministries. Milner is one of these kingdom partners. With hospitality we are saying "yes" to the world's "no" giving value and place to groups and individuals seeking a safe place to meet, pray, and serve. Through our worship we are showing forth the diversity of God's people from the east and west, the north and south welcoming all races, cultures, and relationships. Through our outreach we remember the names of those who find us and bless them as brother and sister while helping where we can.
Let us take joy in the kingdom for it is within in view!