People had mentioned how great the ice cream is Young’s Jersey Dairy near Yellow Springs, but being a city boy, I wasn’t much interested in making the 45-60 minute drive east of Dayton to a dairy for a scoop of ice cream. I mean, a scoop of UDF is plenty good enough, and they bring it from the dairy to many convenient locations throughout Dayton. The closest is 20 minutes away. Actually, around here they don’t measure ice cream in scoops but rather dips, as in hand-dipped ice cream, which doesn’t sound appetizing to me: I don’t want anyone’s hands in the ice cream they’re serving me.

Well, several years back … I think it was when I’d participated the first time in the Tour de H2O over on west side of Columbus. Cindy and I drove over on a Friday afternoon, having left our kids with a family friend. We went to dinner at J. Alexander’s, a place we sometimes went to on special date nights when we lived in Toledo, then stayed at a hotel for the night. The following day after the 50-mile ride, we drove home and Cindy noticed the sign for Young’s. I reasoned I’d burned enough calories to enjoy a few scoops … er, dips. Maybe even a waffle cone. (Now that I’m remembering, that was also the day I stole a shower. I’ll have to write about that someday.)

Young’s ice cream is amazing! I do like other places, like UDF and Graeter’s, but Young’s features the taste of freshness, with almost a tang, like yogurt. And creamy! Ooh, creamy! They have so many great flavors and if it’s that week’s feature, you get an extra dip (insert smiley …) for free. We’ve been probably a couple dozen times since that day of the bike ride. We went for Micah’s birthday a couple years back and played miniature golf. The restaurant is pretty good, too. There are actually two. A more casual, fastfood-like joint, and another that features more supper-like selections.

Pretty much any opportunity we get we try to stop at Young’s. Back in October, for instance, Lindsay had her final cross-country meet in Cedarville, which is about ten minutes east of Yellow Springs, so we stopped to get ice cream. Without Lindsay, though. She had to ride the bus home with her team.

Well, I was reminded of Young’s when I was working on my sermon this week. My church began a series on the Sermon on the Mount last week, and I’ll be speaking about the first beatitude.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. -Matthew 5:3 (ESV)

So I was thinking a lot about the reward aspect of the beatitudes. In this case, “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The commentaries I read spoke about how the Beatitudes, and the Sermon on the Mount as a whole, aren’t really a list of commands so that we can garner acceptance by God. More than anything, they show us what living in God’s kingdom is like for those who have already been accepted. We don’t try to earn God’s favor, because God’s grace cannot be merited. Instead, we respond to his grace by living in the ways that please him.

Though the unveiling of the kingdom of heaven is something that will happen in the future, when heaven and earth merge, we can get a taste of it now. Like a Young’s. If ever you’re undecided on what flavor you want, they’ll ask if you’d like a sample. Then they present you with a tiny spoon they’d dipped into … say, black raspberry chocolate chip. So, you taste it, and it’s fantastic! Then they send you on down to the cash register where you pay and then await your selection. Waiting for the revealing of the kingdom of heaven is like that. We can taste it (just as we can still taste the little bit of ice cream), and we know what we have to look forward to. It’s coming. God has promised as such.

So kingdom living looks like the Sermon on the Mount. It isn’t easy, but in the strength of God’s Spirit, we can live as his people now in a world that doesn’t know his kingdom. And our sweetness will be attractive.

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