Choosing the Kingdom

Every time we pray the prayer Jesus gave us, we pray ‘thy kingdom come.’  What, exactly, do we mean?  Today is the Feast of the Ascension, when Jesus rose up into a cloud, leaving the disciples staring up such that two angels appear and ask them, “men of Galilee why do you stand there looking up into heaven?” Many of us have been raised to think of the Kingdom of Heaven as a place we go when we die, when we finally get to be with Jesus “for real.” We are still looking up, but that isn’t where Jesus is nor where the kingdom is to be found.

As long as Jesus was physically present, he was in Galilee or Samaria, in Jerusalem or on the road, but not all those places at once.  Only the physical absence of Jesus from the disciples made possible his actual presence throughout space and time, here with me as I write this and you as you read it.  So what about the kingdom?  We don’t build it or make it, rather we are invited to choose to participate in it every single day.  Remember the prayer Jesus taught us continues, “thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

In his book Choosing the Kingdom, scholar John Dally reminds us that over and over the New Testament authors offer a central proclamation that in Jesus, God was present in history offering an alternative to human notions of power and destiny and forcing a choice of allegiance…a ‘krisis’ (judgment) that they greet with joy…that is a perpetually available choice afforded human beings to discern the action of God in history and choose to embrace it or walk away from it.  (page 13 & 121).  We, too, are faced with those same choices each and every day.

In the midst of our hurting world, we see evidence of people choosing the kingdom. A few that caught my eye this week were the homeless men who rushed into the chaos to be with the victims in Manchester and the incredible speech given by the mayor of New Orleans before the dismantling of the last Confederate monument there. The tenderness and care of someone encouraging her friend who was struggling and some youth who sought to find the best way to be there for a friend who had posted that they had been cutting.

Where did you see glimpses of the kingdom this week? When did you choose the kingdom, perhaps even when it was difficult or costly to do so?  We pray for eyes to see the alternative worldview God is offering in this moment, coming back to be re-grounded in God’s desire for us as witnessed in Jesus.  Will we live in fear and scarcity or trust and sufficiency, the conviction that there is enough?  Will we focus on our own ‘tribe’ of culture, religion or nation or see God in those who are not like us just as much as in those we love?  Will we choose power and certainty or vulnerability and steadfastness?

Choose the kingdom this day, this moment, and pray that I may do likewise.  May our prayers shape our actions that we may participate in the kingdom of heaven here and now.  Rather than standing there looking up, how are we entering into the kingdom of heaven this day?  Some may wish to join the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Rev. Justin Welby, who has initiated an 11-day global wave of prayer today through June 4 entitled ‘thy kingdom come,’ others may want to sign up for the Feed My Starving Children followed by being the guests at an Iftar hosted by our Muslim brothers and sisters or perhaps deliver meals on wheels to those who are in need.  Jesus invites us to see through his eyes, the eyes of Love, and to let our actions flow out from there. How are you choosing the kingdom?

Hope to see you Sunday,

Pastor Elizabeth

PS.  This summer, we are continuing with our regular 8am and 10am Eucharist schedule, providing opportunities between the services to enjoy each other’s company while learning and growing together.