The Kingdom is like…

Apologies for being so last week!  based on Matt. ch.13

So I asked, rather foolishly, what happened at 4.30am.  Blank looks.  And it happens every morning, but perhaps not always that early.

‘sunrise?’ …  Yes!

And what will happen tonight at about 10pm?

‘sunset?’ (they’re catching on!)

Is that right says I?

(they nod)

Are you sure?

(they nod, but one does not)  No! tis the other way round!

It is, says I, thanks be to God for Galileo, Copernicus and the like.  The poor old Catholic church took until 1990 to say it really didn’t handle the Galileo situation very well.  He didn’t quite lose his head, but was almost (apparently) guilty of blasphemy.  For observing the movements of the sun and the other stars, (or lack of!)

So we know the Earth goes round the sun, and it does not rise, but just appears to because we are stood still.  How fast would we need to run to keep up with the sun?

Another question, since we are doing so well…  So if the earth is not at the centre, or indeed flat, where then is heaven?

Above the sky?

That would have been the old answer, when people believed in the three tier universe, when everything revolved around the earth, Heavens above! Earth beneath, Hell below.  Easy to fall off into hell, much harder to get to heaven through the sky.

Heaven was seen as a place wholly other, away from this world, not attainable in any real sense.

And Yet…  The parables of the Kingdom of which Jesus spoke in this Gospel, speak not of a heaven far away and removed, untouchable, un-knowable, but of a heaven close at hand.

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed.  You can watch the tree grow, reach out and touch it, see birds nesting in its branches.  It is like yeast to leaven the flour, something to get your hands into, to feel, smell and eventually taste, something which evokes all the senses.  It is like a precious pearl or a great treasure, something to hold close and guard, not to be divorced from.  It is like a net cast over the water to gather fish.  It feeds and nourishes and is close at hand, just out of view.  We see as if through a glass darkly.  The kingdom is not aloof, far off, unattainable, despite what centuries of theologians might have argued.  With the insight of observers of the world such as Galileo we can see that Jesus had it understood from the beginning, if only we had listened.  Do you understand this?  Says Jesus.  Yes, they say, whist shaking their heads.

This poem is a fitting way to end such observations.

to recover the celtic

I have avoided that word for a long time, it has almost become a nothing word to some, speaking of fanciful longings and notions without any depth or heart or soul. ‘Celtic Christianity never really existed’ some say, and to an extent I would agree. The trouble is, it goes deeper than this. “And Celtic Spirituality is only the heart ruling the head” They might go on to say. When I hear some poetry and music quoted as being ‘celtic’ or of celtic influence I always wonder who was the influence to these quaint ditties, some long forgotten saint speaking from beyond the grave perhaps?

Reading Alastair’s book Soil and Soul is illuminating because for once he usurps the general convention of, is there, isn’t there, celtic arguments and says this:

“The issue, I think, is not whether Celtic spirituality ever existed, but the fact that a living spirituality connecting soil, soul and society manifestly can and does exist. This is community in that word’s most holistic sense. … Celticity therefore takes on a meaning that can be bigger than ethnographic and linguistic definitions alone: it becomes code for reconnection with human community, with the natural world and with God. It expresses what I call a ‘metaculture’: a connection at a level of the soul that goes deeper than superficial cultural differences; a connection simply by virtue of our underlying humanity. Such a bedrock of commonality is desperately needed in today’s fragmented world. It arises not from globalisation as a business concept, but from the fact of being ‘one world’ “