Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 143; 147:12-20, Malachi 2:1-16, James 4:13-5:6, Luke 17:20-37
When it comes to the concept of “end times” Christians are all over the theological board, from people believing the Bible contains clues to the actual date, to believing it’s all a big metaphor, to countless subtle, overwrought positions between them. After two thousand years it’s hard to believe it’s just around the corner (as did many of his contemporaries), but Jesus talked about it too much to simply ignore it.
When the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming, he told them it was nothing that could be observed but “in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.” So which is it – now or later?
He shared examples of what it would be like. Two in a bed, and one taken. Two grinding meal, one taken, the other left behind. Ordinary things. Things we’re not likely to be doing if we think the world is ending. Things we do every day, right now, even as the world ends for so many people caught in war, famine, and disaster.
When the kingdom arrives for you, maybe you’ll be in bed and startle awake with a gasp that feels like the first complete breath you’ve ever taken, a breath full of sorrow and hope that connects you to all the other breaths of the Kingdom. The person sleeping next to you, and their shallow breaths, will wake next to someone who understands why we do good to our enemies, and how forgiveness saves the world, and wonder why you can no longer share the same hate. The kingdoms you wander could suddenly not be more different.
Perhaps the kingdom will come in the middle of your daily grind, when a remembered verse about lilies in the field blooms large, and your fears are cast out. A new perspective, a focus on what’s eternally important rather than what’s mundanely urgent, now separates you from co-workers who look at you like you’re from another planet. Your sudden inability to share their worries confirms their suspicions.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. That is when earth is like heaven.
Comfort: The kingdom is right here.
Challenge: Pick a random page in the newspaper (or your regular online news source) and ask yourself how residents of the kingdom might see the stories differently.
Prayer: Thank you, merciful God, for inviting me into your realm. Amen.
Discussion: Do you feel like part of the present kingdom?
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