By Lilly Lewin—
This week, the Gospel passage in the lectionary for July 30th, is from Matthew’s gospel where Jesus talks about all the different things the Kingdom is like…all the various comparisons and contrasts. We used Matthew 13:31-33 and 44-52 this past week at thinplaceNASHVILLE ( our “house church” community ) At thinplace, we open by praying the psalm aloud together and then listening to gospel passage with three voices from two versions of the Bible. Then everyone is given 30 minutes to be with the passages and I give several questions to consider while journaling (see these below) and there are art supplies to use if you like praying in art.
After the 30 minutes of reflection, we come back together and those who want to, share what God spoke to them about. Sometimes God brings up questions, sometimes, people write poems during the journaling time. Sometimes people (like me) draw in response to what the Holy Spirit is teaching. After the sharing time, we close with an element that ties the story together and helps us remember what we talked and learned about. For this passage, this week, I had symbols of the various Kingdom is like elements on the coffee table…a fish net, packages of yeast, a jar of mustard seeds and small bowl of treasure rocks. As we closed our time together, I passed around the treasure rocks and reminded us that Jesus came to earth to find us as his treasure! We are valued greatly by Jesus! We are the pearls and the treasures that he seeks and loves. We each took a treasure rock to carry with us this week to remind us to live out the Kingdom and our belovedness.
Your turn! You can pray this on your own in your own devotion time this weekend or use it with your small group or with your family or friends. You might even try this ectio divina process with your entire community group and have them listen and allow the Holy Spirit to teach them what God’s word is for them today!
Use the psalm and/ or the Gospel passage as your inspiration.
Write, Journal or create art. Allow the Holy Spirit to inspire you!
What is God’s word for you today? What is God speaking to you about today?
Welcome to thinplaceNASHVILLE
Let’s Pray the Psalm out loud together:
Psalm 105:1-11 (NLT)
1 Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
2 Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
3 Exult in his holy name;
rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
4 Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him.
5 Remember the wonders he has performed,
his miracles, and the rulings he has given,
6 you children of his servant Abraham,
you descendants of Jacob, his chosen ones.
7 He is the Lord our God.
His justice is seen throughout the land.
8 He always stands by his covenant—
the commitment he made to a thousand generations.
9 This is the covenant he made with Abraham
and the oath he swore to Isaac.
10 He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree,
and to the people of Israel as a never-ending covenant:
11 “I will give you the land of Canaan
as your special possession.” AMEN
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 (NIV)
31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked. “Yes,” they replied..
52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”
Matthew 13:31-33, (THE MESSAGE)
31-32 Another story. “God’s kingdom is like a pine nut that a farmer plants. It is quite small as seeds go, but in the course of years it grows into a huge pine tree, and eagles build nests in it.”
33 Another story. “God’s kingdom is like yeast that a woman works into the dough for dozens of loaves of barley bread—and waits while the dough rises.”
34-35 All Jesus did that day was tell stories—a long storytelling afternoon. His storytelling fulfilled the prophecy:
I will open my mouth and tell stories;
I will bring out into the open
things hidden since the world’s first day
“God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic—what a find!—and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field.
45-46 “Or, God’s kingdom is like a jewel merchant on the hunt for excellent pearls. Finding one that is flawless, he immediately sells everything and buys it.
47-50 “Or, God’s kingdom is like a fishnet cast into the sea, catching all kinds of fish. When it is full, it is hauled onto the beach. The good fish are picked out and put in a tub; those unfit to eat are thrown away. That’s how it will be when the curtain comes down on history. The angels will come and cull the bad fish and throw them in the garbage. There will be a lot of desperate complaining, but it won’t do any good.”
51 Jesus asked, “Are you starting to get a handle on all this?”
They answered, “Yes.”
52 He said, “Then you see how every student well-trained in God’s kingdom is like the owner of a general store who can put his hands on anything you need, old or new, exactly when you need it.”
Use the psalm and/ or the Gospel passage as your inspiration. Write, Journal or create art. Allow the Holy Spirit to inspire you!
What is God’s word for you today? What is God speaking to you about today?
Things to consider while Journaling….
- When you think about the kingdom of God what comes to mind? What do you think or feel about the Kingdom of God?
- Some people don’t like the word Kingdom because of the power struggle or the violence that it might bring to mind. What about you? What if you put in “the REIGN of God” instead of the word Kingdom? How does that change things?
- We pray in the Lord’s Prayer, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven….how would you like to see or help bring the kingdom or reign of God to earth in and through your lfie?
- Which of the symbols/metaphors for the Kingdom of God makes the most sense to you and your life? Why?
- How would you change your life in order to live more in the Kingdom or Reign of God?
- God’s kingdom is like the owner of a general store who can put his hands on anything you need, old or new, exactly when you need it…. What do you think of this?
- What are the new treasures God has for you?
Closing Prayer prayed together:
LORD ! Give us grace today to love as you love. Help us to love with extravagance..
Give us hope today for ourselves and others.
Heal our hurts and our hearts today
So we can serve and help those around us.
Help us to know that you are enough.
And help us live today and everyday in thankfulness
For all you’ve done and for all you bless us with. In the Name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit !
***The word thinplace is a celtic term for a place where the veil between heaven and earth is thin,
a place where heaven and earth seem to touch. A place where you experience God and can feel his presence most easily. Everyone has experienced thinplace. It might be the beach, or in the mountains, or watching the sunset. It might be when you practice yoga or run or cycle. The Celtic Christians believed there were specific physical places that were thinplaces and these became places of prayer and often a monastery was built near by.
After visiting some of these thinplaces, in the UK and Ireland, Rob and I wondered how we might experience thinplace in everyday life? So we began hosting thinplace gatherings in Cincinnati, then in Napa Valley, and now in Nashville.