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The Lord’s Prayer Sermon Series: 2 The Kingdom of God on Earth. (Luke 11:1-3)

© The Rev. Elisabeth R. Jones

Long ago, and far away….-
about 5000 years ago,
in a fertile crescent of land
between the two great rivers Tigris and Euphrates
grain grew in abundance,
and grazing animals could be corralled to provide clothing and food.
And kingdoms were born on the earth.
And kingdoms gave birth to empires,
as those in control of food
created weapons to protect it.
And empires rose and fell;
Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian,
Hittite, Persian and Greek.
And then came the Romans.
They thought they were the Empire
without end, universal and eternal,
the culmination of human progress.

But not everyone thought so.
About 200 years before Jesus was born, a visionary called Daniel wrote
of the kingdom without end, universal and eternal,
and he called it, not the Empire of Rome,
but the Kingdom of God.
This kingdom,
born as a Dream in the eternal character and imagination of the Universal God,
would be brought to earth by the “Son of Man” – the “Human one.”
And this heaven on earth kingdom
would be the kingdom without end.
Daniel’s vision of the kingdom of God,
was born in each subsequent generation of the children of Israel,
and we beheld its fullness in the human one, the child of Nazareth,
Jesus.

So when this Jesus taught his disciples to pray,
“Your Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven”
It is Daniel’s vision of God’s Dream of which he speaks.

What is this kingdom of God on earth?
Pie-in the sky? or a pious petition?
A mystical vision with little relevance to reality?
An unattainable ideal?
A spiritual sanctuary for the religious,
divorced from the real kingdoms and empires of the earth?

The longer I spend in the company of Jesus,
the less convinced I am that his prayer is asking for the creation of some
inner-spiritual sanctuary world
to which we faithful ones can retreat when the ‘real world’ gets rough and tough.
The more convinced I am that his prayer on our lips
and this particular petition
for the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth,
is powerful speech with significant political and social ramifications
for our daily lives as followers of Jesus Christ.

And to show what I mean,
we have to step back for a moment to recall
what we know and trust about God
and God’s Dream.
Way back last fall, I said from this pulpit,
that we discover in the pages of Scripture, and from our own experience,
a persistent character trait of God:
it is God’s nature to choose to be in relationship with creation, no matter what,
and to do so in ways that heal the weakest,
protect the vulnerable, replenish the emptied,
lift up the downtrodden, mend the broken,
to heal the body, heart, soul or mind,
or the nation, family, war-torn field,
polluted ocean, smoke-filled sky.

Hesed, the Hebrews called it,
this nature of God to be steadfast in healing, loving, reconciling mercy.i
Anything that God dreams, and creates is made in God’s image
and is therefore imbued with those same characteristics,
so that a whole universe becomes filled with the character of God!

And this world imbued with the character of God is what Daniel called Kingdom.
A kingdom Jesus could see in the mustard seed and the widow’s mite,
in the bursting net filled with fish,
in a parent’s sacrificial, persistent love of a child,
in the compulsion to heal a man born blind, 10 lepers,
to forgive those burdened with unforgiveable guilt,
to reconcile brothers and sons,
to raise little girls from death to life and possibility.

Desmond Tutu calls it God’s Dream.
We’ve been using “Dream” language here at CPU for the past year,
because Dream implies something we may lose if we only use
an archaic, politicized word.
Dream suggests something deeper than strategy and plan,
it suggests the work of soul and heart as well as mind,
it implies something dynamic and mysterious,
something that connects physical and spiritual, the future with the present and the past,
and it unveils that character of the imagination to create something wondrous,
delight-filled, festive even, adventurous, impossibility fulfilled.
Dream conveys something of the life-abundant character and desire of God for this world.

And it is this kingdom dream fulfilled,
at home among us, and feeding our spirits,
and giving our lives a God-made purpose,
for which we pray.

But here’s the clincher!
This kingdom of God on earth
is ours to make happen!
What we have discovered of God
is that we are heirs, and children of this dream,
called to do the building of this kingdom on earth,
using God’s Dream as our benchmark and goal.

Tutu pithily said,
“God without us will not, we without God, cannot.”
So this petition we pray to God that God’s kingdom come on earth,
involves all who pray it in a declaration of our intent
to participate in its creation and sustenance.

The biblical word for this is to become stewards of the kingdom.
Stewards in this biblical sense,
are those who sign on to be caretakers of the kingdom,
and weavers of the dream of God.
Stewards are called to use God-given resources
faithfully, creatively,
wisely and generously
so that this Kingdom, Dream of God on earth
is built by the work of our human hands.

It is real, it is relevant, it is here.
It has an address and a postal code,
it even has a green roof.
Pray-ers of this petition, we get to participate
in God’s Kingdom coming by
building and sustaining this house for hope,
creating a place here where
“all are named, their songs and visions heard,”ii
A house built on the foundation of God’s Dream
as a place of welcome, nourishment and fulfillment.
And we do it by using the wood and stone of this place
to its best potential as a kingdom house,
stewarding the dollars, the skills, and the talents,
so that we can reach beyond our walls
with a lived-out passion for justice,
to work for equality of access and opportunity for all,
regardless of age, or ability, or race, or gender
to experience the life-giving kingdom of God on earth.

Kingdom comes in children in KidZone,
in the women of Morning Connections, in Voices for Hope,
in Youth in Action, in prayer and fellowship,
in deep abiding care for one another,
in the healing pathway,
and an AV team, and furnace caretakers,
and the lawn mowers, and the kitchen cleaners,
the bulletin folders, and the phone answerers….
and in all those who sustain these kingdom activities,
with our mutual investment
of the best of what we earn from our daily labour,
the best of our skills and talents, the gifts of our time together.

Amazing what happens when we pray together
“Your kingdom come on earth” isn’t it?!

I give the last word to the writer of the letter to the Ephesians
“Glory to God, whose power working in us,
can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.”

Amen.


1 Referring to the sermon “Dilemma and Promise” Pentecost 9A, Aug 14, 2011.

2 Marty Haugen, All are Welcome, 1994. In More Voices. 1.

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