A Taste for the Kingdom of God

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

Psalm 37:1-18 (Morning)
Psalm 37:19-42 (Evening)
I Kings 11:1-13
James 3:13-4:12
Mark 15:12-21
 


In reading over the lectionary passages for this morning, I noticed a theme running through some of the texts – that our appetites and desires often lead us into trouble, and far from that which brings us true contentment and joy.

In the Old Testament Book of I Kings, we see that King Solomon had a taste for exotic and foreign women, as well as their exotic and foreign gods. It was through his marriages to his foreign wives, that Solomon sought to gain alliances with his wives’ foreign and powerful fathers. This was how Solomon attempted to increase his power and wealth, yet it also led him away from his devotion to the God of his heart.

In the Epistle of James, the author ponders the source of the painful conflicts and disputes plaguing the community, and his answer is this: “Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you…leading to envy and a desire for that which you do not have, and a failure to be content with what you do?” And in the Gospel of Mark, we find that Jesus was imprisoned, and Pilate, the Governor of Judea, gave the gathered crowd a choice, as was the Passover custom, of releasing one prisoner – Jesus or Barabbas. The crowd chose to release Barabbas, imprisoned for murder in a rebellion against the Roman authorities, and they cried out for Jesus to be crucified. It seems that the crowds had more of a taste for rebellion and killing than redemption.

St. Augustine said that sin, most simply put, is not a matter of loving the wrong things, because everything is, after all, part of God’s good creation. Rather, sin is loving the right things, but in the wrong way, to the wrong degree, or for the wrong reasons. Sin is a matter of our appetites being out of whack or out of order. When I was a child, there were some foods I loved to eat, that now, as an adult, I have very little taste for, such as…cotton candy. And there were many foods, given the choice, I would have preferred not to eat, and yet as an adult, I now love them. My mother would have said it was a matter of acquiring a taste for the “finer” foods.

I believe that Christian Formation, the main task of the church, is the way God teaches our hearts to long for and love things, people, and God in the right way. It is though attending to my Rule of Life – the holy habits of weekly Eucharist, daily prayer, regular acts of service, and study, and reflection, that God teaches me to love in the right way. It is kind of like God’s way of instilling in us a taste for the Kingdom of God, because the Kingdom of God…is an acquired taste.
 


Written by Trent Palmer, a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Trent is a Realtor by profession and enjoys reading, music, camping, hiking, and boating. He grew up United Methodist and was a pastor in the United Methodist Church for 10 years, first in Louisiana and then in Arkansas. He moved with his wife, Kristi, to Little Rock in 1994, where she was a resident physician, training at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in pediatric medicine. Trent was confirmed in the Episcopal Church in 2008 at St. Margaret’s in Little Rock, and has been a member of St. Paul’s since he and his family moved to Fayetteville four years ago. Trent and Kristi have three children: Elizabeth – 21, Carter – 19, and Katherine – 16. Trent attends the 11:00 am worship service and enjoys being a Lay Eucharistic Minister and an EfM (Education for Ministry) Mentor.

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