Isaiah 55: 10-11; Romans 8: 18-23; Matthew 13: 1-23
As I finish up my time here and was reflecting upon my experience at Saint Ann’s, I found myself going back to the beginning. At some point I would have written about my own philosophy on all of this that we do as Church, and it takes me back to the film, Field of Dreams; if you build it, they will come. For Ray, in that movie, it was about building a baseball field for the greats to come and play, but on a larger scale, the metaphor applies to us as building the Kingdom of God. If we build it, they will come.
For Ray, much of his time was learning to trust that inner voice, that “groaning” within as Saint Paul says, and communicating that to others, often in the face of doubts, questions, people thinking he was crazy, lack of funds, risk, skepticism, and generally much resistance. Yet, the more he trusted, the more the field becomes a reality.
For us it isn’t much different. We too must learn to trust that inner voice and groaning. Yes, we are called to build that Kingdom out there. That is our primary responsibility. It’s not about building buildings or building bank accounts filled with money; yes, much of that comes with time but primary is building the Kingdom here within my own heart only to see it become a lived reality around me. If you build it, the people will come, Ray is assured over and over, and the same is true for us.
In the face of much resistance from the landowner, the sower in today’s Gospel would seem rather absurd in his approach with sowing seeds. He seems quite haphazard. Yet, that was his responsibility and ours for that matter, to spread the seeds in building the Kingdom. Beyond that, much of the work is left up to God working in and through us. If God wants grace to break in, somehow it will happen. It is beyond our understanding and always has a sense of mystery, but grace tills soil, fertilizes, hoes, cares for, and prepares for life. We know we can’t rush the process. Life won’t happen until grace and mystery are ready to unfold it. “All creation is groaning in labor pains even until now”, Paul tells us.
We know from creation around us, we must wait and so often in time have to learn to live and trust the unfinished. Life is always unfolding around us and within us. If the trees and plants are not ready to sprout and green, we wait. We can’t yank them from the ground when we’re ready. We typically can’t pull babies out of the womb before they’re ready. We wait and we wait and we allow grace to do it’s work. A home is made and built, the Kingdom within, and when life is ready and death takes the back seat, life breaks forth.
If you build it, they will come; and the people came and the community continues to grow and give life. No it’s not easy work in building the Kingdom. We are often faced with much resistance. often from the most “religious”, they, in their own rocky hearts, try to tear it down, but as Ray teaches and most especially, the Gospels, we must remain persistent in the face of it all. Keep pushing forward. Keep trudging along, even when we feel like giving up, and when grace is ready, life breaks forth and the Kingdom within begins to become the Kingdom around us.
My friends, my prayer for you as I close out my time is that you continue to pray for the grace to build the Kingdom. It truly is our primary responsibility as disciples. So much else begins to fall into place when we give the Kingdom its due. It’s about building the relationships. It’s about making the connections. It’s about being persistent and having the courage to move forward, even when you want to turn back. It’s about opening our hearts enough for grace to break in and begin its work, mystery unfolding within and all around us. If you continue to build it, they will come. They will come because their is something different about what happens here. It’s not about glitz and glamour or the newest fad; rather, it’s about grace and mystery being trusted to unfold the way it is; it’s about the Kingdom of God already and not yet, here and yet unfinished…and that’s ok. If you build it my friends, they will come. Build the Kingdom and they will come.