Larry awoke to find his aching head propped against a brick wall, his legs stretched into the downtown street from between two garbage cans, his cherished half-empty bottle of bourbon cradled like a baby against his breast, and an angel looking into his clouded eyes.
"Mister, are you OK?" asked the tiny apparition, a blond-haired little girl snug in a red woolen coat.
A woman fumbling for car keys nearby turned sharply, her eyes narrowing into suspicion, then fear. Through a paper mache smile she said, "Amy, come here. Leave the nice man alone."
"But mommy, I think he's hurt," the girl lamented. "Besides, he looks just like Jesus."
The woman levered her daughter into her child-safety seat, trying not to roll her eyes as she said, "Like the Jesus in your Sunday school books?"
"No mommy!" It was the little girl's turn to roll her eyes. "Like the REAL one."
Thunder rolled like a lead ball on a brick floor as rain cascaded from the roiling clouds.
"Wow!" laughed Kamal as he was instantly drenched stepping off the front porch. His sister, Chantal, giggled as she, too, left the safety of the porch and danced barefoot in the warm mud.
Sticks became storm-tossed boats in the rushing water of the nearby culvert. Rain insistently hammering the leaves of an oak made the children shout to hear each other.
Their father had to shout even louder to get them back inside.
"What were you two thinking?" he muttered as he toweled them off.
Kamal decided to sidestep that question with one of his own. "Dad, did you know that when it rains on oil spilled on the road, it makes rainbows?"
The kingdom of God. It's a mystery, like the city of Atlantis rising from the mist; like Xanadu appearing on a mountainous trek; like scattered seed sprouting while we sleep.
To most of us, Jesus had to speak of the Kingdom in parables ..." because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand."
So, the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that grows into a great tree where birds may nest. It is like the small measure of leaven that mixes throughout a loaf of bread. It is a place harlots and tax collectors find easier to navigate than the rich or self-righteous.
It belongs to the poor. It has drawn near.
It is at hand.
In John 3, Jesus says if we are born again, we can see it. If we are born of water and the Spirit, we can enter it.
Born again? Then we would be like children.
Children who see rainbows in rainstorms.
Children who see Jesus where adults do not.
“'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ ...‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’" (Matthew 25:44-45)
The Kingdom of God? It's all around us. It's been there, accessible, beckoning, since Christ poured out his life for us, since He poured out His Spirit and the water of life on the cross.
Many of us have even seen it; can envision it still, rising from the mist in childhood memories.
But, thinking we were putting away childish things, we turned our hands and minds to making our way in this world -- and His world faded from view.
Maybe it's time to put away our umbrellas, turn our faces to Heaven and soak up His presence again.
We might even see a rainbow.
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