When Jesus prays, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” he was sincere and sober in his petition. What we see in the world around us is a clash of kingdoms. The Kingdom of God is contested by the kingdoms of the world and the desires of those who are not aligned with God.
For reasons of free will and factors which I am not wise enough to understand or explain, this world remains broken. History rolls on with human atrocities and pain 2,000 long years after Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of God to us with power. This is what theologians describe as living in the “already but not yet.” Part of this is the idea that the Kingdom of God is a grassroots movement of men and women who show true allegiance to Jesus. This kingdom movement cuts across all lines: ethnicity, gender, nationality, and geography. It means that God’s kingdom is present in the lives of his people in the midst of the mess of this world. The Kingdom of God is already present among us, but it is not yet fully realized. God has yet to bring judgment on this world and put an end to evil. We trust that he will do this, but for now we are called to live and act in ways that introduce his priorities and his love to a world that so frequently rejects and denies him.
In the midst of a world that is so out of step with the priorities of Christ, what are we doing here? The massive negative effects of the pandemic, which kept us at home and separated from each other, are largely over. So what are we doing now? How are we living differently as the body of Christ in the communities where God has placed us? How are our priorities and Christ-life being lived out in ways that show a different kingdom priority to the community around us?
Part of the answer to these questions rests in the ministry initiatives we have carried on for a long time. Here at Conejo, many of our special programs are designed to continue to tell the only story that matters; the only story that can change lives and bring real hope. When we come together for Good Friday or for Advent activities, we have long tried to approach these days with creativity and passion to make God’s love evident to all who would come and see. When our kids enjoy VBS or go to camp or on mission trips, we find fun and memorable ways to tell them that there is hope and life found in Christ that exists in no other way. Every Sunday, we sing songs of faith and praise. We gather and share in earnest prayer for our world. Each Sunday we gather around the table for communion to remember what God has done on our behalf through the death and resurrection of Jesus. In the midst of the brokenness and conflict in our world, we hold up a light that shines in the darkness and even this present darkness has not overcome it.
My prayer for each of you, my beloved brothers and sisters, is that you will see that what we do each week has potential to make an eternal difference. Please engage. Please bring others into places and events where they can hear and see. Please take part in what God is doing through his body in these places – through us. Please help answer the prayer of Jesus and help his kingdom come, and his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. That, my friends, is what we are doing here. To paraphrase authors of Scripture, let us not grow weary or lose heart in doing good.