My 1959 Revised Standard Version (a gift from my parents when I was a young, eager lad) said Jesus talked about the “kingdom of heaven.” The RSV was the first Bible I seriously used to sermon preparation. Newer versions that followed often echoed the RSV’s “kingdom of heaven.”
However, I frequently used “realm of love” in sermons, like . . .
The realm of love is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.
I can more easily tell you why I prefer “realm of love” to “kingdom of heaven” than what it means. Simply, realm is not male-oriented. A king is male. I was raised in an era that started to question male-only words and phrases. In a sense, I was trained to emphasize alternatives to sexist language. Once I thought God was male, bearded, and mostly elsewhere. He seemed a Divine Dude you were obligated to invite to activities, but often wished He’d arrive early and leave quickly.
When I started using “realm of love” instead of “kingdom of heaven,” it was pretty cool that I got reactions from folks in the pews. Continue reading →