Jewelery, Black History Month and the Kingdom of God
I’m not much for jewelry. Apart from our wedding rings, the only jewelry that I ever bought for Sylvia was an opal necklace. But to demonstrate how inattentive I can be to such things, I didn’t even notice the tiny little diamond embedded in the necklace. Truth be known, I wouldn’t have bought the thing if I did see the diamond – both because it is so tiny that it adds nothing to the opal (which is beautiful) but also because the odds are that this diamond was mined with near slave labour.
Jewelry and slavery are often not that far apart. Precious minerals and gems are the stuff of masters, not slaves. These are the treasured possessions of the aristocracy, indeed, of royalty.
So when Jesus says that his Kingdom is like a lost treasure that a woman will turn things upside down to find, or that it is like a pearl of great price, he’s tapping into this human desire for things of immense value. This treasure, this pearl, he is saying, are the royal jewels of his Kingdom.
But that is where the analogy ends. I mean it doesn’t help slaves to be told that the Kingdom is like the gems and minerals that they are forced to mine in a context of brutal and violent oppression. It might not be such a great metaphor for Black History month in Ontario.
But Jesus also says that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, something small that grows into a bush of safety and rest for all who come to it. And the Kingdom of God is like a little leaven that a woman puts into a lump of dough and before she knows it the whole lump has been leavened.
The Kingdom of God is like the hope for freedom that burns in the heart of oppressed peoples from the slave plantations of America to the streets of Egypt. The Kingdom of God is like the longing for home that will rise up like grass through cement amongst the homeless. The Kingdom of God is like a treasure of dignity, welcome and justice that a single mom will go through hell and high water to secure for her kids.
The aspirations and hopes of the Kingdom, the radical hope of Jesus, is like a leaven that will permeate and transform everything. In 19th century America this hope empowered Afro-American slaves to wade in the waters of liberation from their slavery.
This, my friends, is a pearl of great price. At Wine Before Breakfast this week we’ll have a little peak at the jewels of the Kingdom.
Andrew Federle will break the bread and open the word.
Joanna Moon has written her first ever prayer litany (yea! Joanna!)
And the Bandhood will call us to songs of subversion.
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