Lyrica purchase online australia The Sunday Sermon: Fifth Sunday after Pentecost – June 19, 2016
mon dernier article de blog The Kingdom of God on Earth
This summer we are calling ourselves to be more truly, more deeply, more fully Christian. We are examining six elements that make up the essential Christian life. Last week, our “confession of God’s act in the person and ministry of Jesus,” understood most profoundly as we understand that this is the same act that God is trying to provoke in us and in our ministry to the world even now.
This morning, we examine a second component of the Christian’s life: “We must live toward God’s kingdom on earth through a concern for mission in this world.” God’s kingdom on earth … God’s Kingdom come, God’s Kingdom already here … Listen for the Word of God:
Read Isaiah 11:6-9 … The Word of the Lord … Thanks be to God.
The peacable, the peaceful, kingdom as described by Isaiah. We long for the time when “the wolf and the lamb will” and the “little child shall.” But here’s our focus this morning: We live in a time where that Kingdom is present.
In the first century, a peasant from Nazareth named Jesus created a “fundamental paradigm shift” within “Jewish eschatological expectation.” For almost three thousand years from the Jewish traditions and teachings of old, the followers of Yahweh were taught that there would come a time when God would begin a “great divine clean-up” of the world. The images of this “divine clean-up” in their holy scripture and in their teachings disclosed what the world would look like if and when God sat on Pharaoh’s throne, on the thrones of the Assyrian, Babylonian, or Persian King’s thrones, on Caesar’s throne, and most historically close to Jesus, himself, in Herod’s palace. The “great divine clean-up” described and anticipated a world that would be transformed with God’s holiness, righteousness, mercy and non-violence. It would be a world exactly like the one described in Isaiah’s word’s from the eleventh chapter of his book … wolves and lambs, leopards and kids, calves and lions together; no hurt, no destruction; only the knowledge of the Lord and the presence of Justice and Love. This “great divine clean-up,” this “Kingdom of God,” as powerful a belief as it was, was, for three thousand years, a “kingdom of the future.” From the Jewish prophets of old right up through John the Baptist, the Kingdom of God was always in the future, imminent and close, but “not quite yet.” Jesus represented a “messianic paradigm shift.”
For Jesus, as you know, said that the Kingdom of God is already here. “You have been waiting for God,” he taught his followers, “while God has been waiting for you!” The eschaton, the “great divine clean-up of the world,” the Kingdom of God is not imminent but realized, he said – hear and now. Most assuredly not complete, but already here, on earth. And what’s more, it is interactive. It is participatory. It is collaborative. God is waiting on you … on us.
Our confession of God’s act in the life and ministry of Jesus, through our own lives and ministries right now, then, must acknowledge the following: The Kingdom of God is present here on earth. Our Christianity, our Christian faith, our lives as Christians are “collaborative.” What are we doing to more fully realize the Kingdom of God on earth?
As Christians we must live toward God’s kingdom already on earth through a concern for mission in this world. You bring God’s good news to the poor. You proclaim release to the captives. You give sight to the blind, food to the hungry, voice to the voiceless, and let the oppressed go free. With this understanding, there is a fundamental shift in our own understanding of what’s happening when we engage in mission in this world. We aren’t “taking” God anywhere when we do any of this, and more. We are, rather, meeting God everywhere. God is already “here” and already “there.” “God” has been here since the dawn of creation, waiting for us to show the concern for this world and all who inhabit it that we were created for. If we do, when we do – when all of us do, every man, woman, and child on earth – then the clean-up will be complete. Then, the clean-up will be done. Then God’s kingdom on earth will be as it is in heaven. How realistic is that? About as realistic as a wolf living with a lamb, yes? No hurting or destroying. Beautiful images, but …
We read the passage from Isaiah, and there are very many more in our scripture, describing what “heaven on earth” looks like. The language, most often, remains poetic and the imagery finds its expression on canvas paintings or forgotten dreams, but not in the real world, right? But … Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is among you … is within you.” We forget that, or we mis-interpret it to let ourselves off the hook, to put the responsibility back on God. But that is the central act of God in the life and ministry of Jesus that we confess: The Kingdom of God is among us.
So what does a “wolf living down with a lamb” look like in our world today? When do cows and bears graze and their young lie down together? Where do young children play with venomous snakes and receive no deadly bite? Where is Kingdom of God on earth?
There are answers to this question. I do believe, with all my heart – and so do you, I know you do – that we do experience the “peaceful Kingdom” that Isaiah describes her and now. We are going to identify some of those places, some of those practices, some examples of God’s Kingdom on earth. But … let’s first explore, for just a moment or two, where the Kingdom of God is not so that we can be clearer in our search later.
The Kingdom of God is most assuredly not in the carnage caused by bombs and bombers anywhere on earth, in Syria or Iraq or Lebanon or anywhere else in the world, that kill or injure dozens on a daily basis – no matter how righteous we may feel our wars are.
The Kingdom of God is not found in any conflicts – Arab-Israeli, Sunni-Sufi, or Chechen-Russian, Democrat-Republican – that deny the rights of one faction or the existence of another, or that use words and images to demonize one another.
It is not found in nightclubs in Florida, or movie theatres in Colorado, or workplaces in California, or anywhere that bullets from automatic assault weapons tear the bodies and dreams of countless victims and their families. And, it is not found in the rhetoric that assigns blame for such attacks on ethnic groups or religious faiths without thought to the deeper complexities of our fragile human life.
The Kingdom of God is not found in the perpetual arguments over who is right and who is wrong, in either global and national politics or individual and personal confrontations.
The Kingdom of God is not found in stereotypes or discriminatory thoughts, words, or deeds so often and so carelessly thought, spoken, and performed without any deeper desire than to assign blame and hide behind a cloak of certainty.
The Kingdom of God is not found in walls that divide or lines that separate or explanations that detach one human begin from another.
It is not found in our own lives any time we seek to blame others for our own frailties, accuse others out of our own fear, define others from our own limited experiences, or disparage others through our insipid need to make ourselves feel more secure or more superior.
In Isaiah’s imagery, these are all places in our world and in our lives where wolves are devouring lambs and leopards killing goats, where bears are ravaging cows and young one are dying from poisonous snakebites. And friends, if we are spending any time, now or later, assigning the traditional roles of wolves. leopards, and bears to other countries, religious groups, or individuals, then the Kingdom of God is not found within us, either.
But it is here … on earth. Jesus was insistent about that and as his followers, as confessors of God’s act in his person and ministry, as well as our own, we insist that it is … here. Where is it?
I want you to think of, remember or anticipate, where you have found the Kingdom of God on Earth. I know this can be a subjective exercise, we don’t all experience God in the same way. But where in the world, where in your life, have you ever felt – or are you feeling right now – closer to the Holy and the Sacred. Where in the world, where in your life, have you felt deeper compassion for others, for all others. Chances are the Kingdom of God is there … in the world, among the worldly, within others as well as yourselves. As you’re sitting here, ask yourselves, “Where is heaven on earth?” Go on … “Where is heaven on earth?
The easier responses may be found in moments we have experienced: a sunrise after a stormy night, or any deeper appreciation of the creation around us; a hug of reunion after a long separation or any moment of deeper communion; the birth of a child or any time you feel life both from and beyond yourself. These are Kingdom on earth moments.
We can dig a bit deeper and I want you to do that this week. Where is there war and death in this world and how in the world can we find peace and offer life, how can we be peace and life? Where is their pain and loneliness and anger and fear and how can we be agents of comfort and camaraderie and calm and assurance? Where are we not listening to each other and how can we begin? This is our call to a truer, deeper, fuller Christian life, responding to questions like these … with action.
As difficult as it is to begin, as hard as it is to believe we can actually make a difference. As Christians we must live toward God’s kingdom on earth through a concern for mission in this world. Here is your mission this week, choose one or more and dig deeper:
Discover and begin to live your life’s purpose and vision as it meets the world’s needs.
Express the beauty of life through your love and compassion for others
Create enlivening affirmations.
Take on one of the world’s major sufferings and be part of ending it.
And as you do …
Be aware of the presence of heaven on earth in every moment.
Author Frances Hodgson Burnett said of these “heaven on earth” things: “At first (we) refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, and then (we) begin to hope it can be done, then (we) see it can be done—then it is done … and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.”
Brothers and Sisters, it began for us centuries ago. Let us continue the work of our Christian lives that it may be so before more centuries pass.
Reverend Joel Weible, Pastor / Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church / June 19, 2016