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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Focus: Thy Kingdom Come

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?" Pilate replied, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?"  Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here." Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." John 18:33-37

As Jerry Seinfeld would say when things are outrageously at odds with expectations: It’s Bizarro World! What kind of a king is born in a stable? What kind of a king wanders around telling stories all day? What kind of king seeks out the low-lifes and the losers and heaps scorn on the big-shots? He doesn’t have a castle, crown jewels or even a coach. What kind of a king is that? Our King, Jesus Christ, the King of Kings. There never was and never will be another king like him.

As we march further and further into the 21st Century, monarchy seems more and more a quaint anachronism…a boost for the British tourist trade, fodder for the tabloids, some spicy plots for the PBS soap operas, all strictly the stuff of fairy-tales. We’re comfortable with the Good Shepherd metaphor -- a loving, protective, gentle Jesus -- but what’s all this king stuff about?

Jesus always spoke in terms the people understood … the mustard seed, the lost sheep, the prodigal son. The concept of kingdoms and kingship was equally familiar. It clearly described relationships, order, authority and responsibility. It did then. It does now. But will God be seated on a throne, have robes and a long white beard? I have my doubts, but never doubt that God has the will and the power to make all things work together for the good. He is the creator and ruler of the universe. And that counts for a whole lot more than a collection of cliche stage props.

As we’ve seen in earlier gospel accounts, Jesus was a terrible disappointment to those who wanted the Messiah to slaughter their enemies and dominate their neighbors. The peace of Christ is not the product of conquest. It is a labor of love. The kingdom Christ preached has no frontiers, no army, no navy. But as we’ve seen, it does have a constitution: Love God with your whole heart. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Over 2000 years, hundreds of powerful dynasties have had their day and faded. Only the Kingdom of God endures as fresh and as new, as vibrant and joyful as the day it was first proclaimed by Christ. This Sunday we come to the end of our church year. It is fitting that we begin each year in anticipation of Jesus’ birth. And we finish each year celebrating Christ in glory.

In the perfect prayer composed for us by Jesus, we pray: Thy kingdom come. But we are not meant to be just passive supplicants seeking the kingdom only in prayer. We are also meant to build the kingdom. Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord!, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father. (Mat. 7:21) How do we make the kingdom come? How do we build it?

Through divine grace the foundations of the kingdom have been sunk solidly into our hearts. Christ is faithfully waiting to help us build on that foundation. This side of heaven, that is where and how his kingdom will come. But first we must overthrow our own kingdom of pride. We must depose the princes of sin who usurp his place in our hearts. If in all things we seek first the kingdom of God, we have been promised that his kingdom surely will come. If we honestly and constantly commit to letting Christ reign in our hearts, in the words of St. Josemaria Escriva: “My every heartbeat and breath, my most ordinary word, my most basic feeling can be transformed into a hosanna to Christ, my king.”  


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