Like most 5-year-olds, my daughter has an amazing ability to bring chaos in her wake. A tidy room dissolves into disorder and confusion in a matter of moments. Yet at the center of this chaos is great joy and creativity. The mess she makes is nearly always in the service of a new game or of making something.
For me this is a parable of the kingdom. Most of the readings this month speak of the way in which Gods kingdom turns our world upside-down. We cannot help but be influenced by what things look like on the outside, but God cares about what goes on in our hearts. We are impressed by power, status, and wealth, but Gods kingdom is ruled by humility and gentleness. We often live lives of deep despair, but God yearns to bring us joy and hope.
The message of Passiontide and Easter is at the same time joyful and unsettling. The resurrection points us beyond despair to hope, but it can do so only if we are prepared to surrender ourselves to the chaotic, joyful presence of God. If we let it, Gods kingdom will whirl into our tidy, ordered lives, wrecking our expectations but bringing joy. This season reminds us of how much Gods kingdom can cost us - but also how much it can reward us.
Paula Gooder is a lecturer at the Queens Foundation, Birmingham, England, and a freelance biblical lecturer and writer.
A Divine Beauty Contest
1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41