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A Pearl Like a Fishnet: July 27.

Genesis 29:15-28; Psalm 105:1-11, 45; Romans 8:26-39; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

What do a seed, yeast, buried treasure, a pearl, and a fishnet have in common? They're all like the kingdom, right?

Actually, no. When we read these diverse and troubling kingdom parables carefully, the objects described are inseparable from actions and actors: Seed is sown by a sower, yeast is hidden by a woman, the treasure hunter and the merchant buy and sell, the fishers fish. The kingdom is not about static symbols but about people engaged in action.

"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed" is a familiar and comforting image--God will do something wonderful if we have a tiny bit of faith; something big and good comes from something small and insignificant.

We think this because we don't know much about mustard and focus on the tiny seed, not the "great tree." A mustard bush is neither big nor wonderful; it is invasive, fast-growing, and impossible to get rid of (like darnel, another invasive weed).

The kingdom of God is like kudzu, like Scotch broom, like morning glories, like dandelions. And birds of the air? The last place we want them is in our grain fields. You've heard of scarecrows?

The pesky mustard seed parable is paired with the one-verse parable of the yeast. A nice domestic image, a little gender parity, maybe even an instance of Jesus speaking directly to women. Well, it would be if the central images didn't all convey contamination, corruption, and subversion. A modern paraphrase might be: "The kingdom of God is like a virus in a dirty needle that a junkie took and injected into a vein so the whole body was infected." Yet in the parable, from this woman's "hiding" the yeast comes incredible abundance--bread to feed more than 100 people.

In the parables of Matthew, the kingdom Jesus announces is subversive, unstoppable, invasive, a nuisance, urgent, shocking, abundant. It requires action and commitment and inspires extreme behavior.

Listen--serfs are buying land, a peasant woman has baked bread for 100, the kingdom of God is rising, and there we find our daily bread. Fish are breaking through nets, the rich are selling all they have. The kingdom is springing up faster than we can uproot it.

Laurel A. Dykstra is a scripture and justice educator living in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is author of Set Them Free: The Other Side of Exodus.
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Title Annotation:Living the Word
Author:Dykstra, Laurel A.
Publication:Sojourners Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2008
Previous Article:Seeds and Weeds: July 20.
Next Article:A calendar to set your clock: it's Ordinary Days, the Miller Time of the liturgical year.

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