Tag Archive: kingdom come


Ringers

We all need to hear a certain type of bell ring.001

We hear many bells. We hear ringing of bells that alert us that class is over, the leftovers in the microwave are done, it is time to check the biscuits in the oven, we have email, or a text message arrived .

Our watches and phones beep and ring binding us to the time.
Pulling and prodding us away from what is around us to what is ahead.
Bells ring for our safety because we haven’t fastened our seat belt, a battery is low, a heart monitor announcing our pace, or a sensor keeping track of the level of oxygen in our blood.
Yesterday, after round and round of chemotherapy, ups and downs, anxiety and fear, tears and struggle a young boy was declared liberated and free from the things that were threatening to rob him of life. A bell sounded. Treatment is done.
We never ring the bells of liberty alone. Surrounding that young boy reaching for that bell is a great cloud of people witnessing to the kingdom of God. From a mom, dad, a sister, and a brother holding and lifting each other while the waves of cancer swelled, to the doctors and nurses using God given compassion, wisdom, and reason to participate in his healing. From the janitors who kept a well lived in hospital room clean to women sewing and praying offering comfort in the form of a pillow. From all the members of a community shaped by Christ offering shoulders for crying and giving lots of hugs, to those who kneel in God’s presence speaking words on behalf of a family whose words are consumed with diagnosis, treatments, side effects, and procedures. We never ring the bells of liberty alone.
There are bells we need to hear.
Let Freedom Ring… not of a country, but a Kingdom. Let the bells ring and set off vibrations throughout the atmosphere, the ground and down into the physical matter of all our hearts and minds. Let the bells sings of the glorious kingdom of God being at hand, so close you can see it. See it in the smile of a child free of cancer. See it in the mother who cried so many tears, now crying tears of gratitude and joy.
We need to hear the bells of the kingdom ring announcing its proximity, its accessibility, its availability. With all the forces that oppress, rob life, inhibit abundance that seeks to dampen the sounds of the kingdom it is good to hear the sounds of the kingdom breaking through. When the dark silence of cancer, racial injustice, poverty, prejudice, unforgiveness, and divisive ways of talking over issues of gender dampen the sounds of this world I thank God I have heard the bell and I know a ringer.
001 (1)
Lord Jesus, as we encounter your grace, love and experience your kingdom, help us to grab the rope and chime the bell sending vibrations resonating throughout all creation announcing your kingdom, until the sounds of joy, holiness, and glory are all we hear. Amen. 

News

Unintentionally I have just returned from a news fast. I didn’t intentionally set out to avoid the news media. Typically in my life I would get my dose of what was going on in the world by watching the first 5 minutes of the Today show where they would highlight the big news stories of the day, and then I would listen to NPR news in the car as I drove around. Well, we have unplugged from cable and we are simply doing Hulu and iTunes for entertainment. Over the last number of months instead of filling my ears with NPR while I was in the car, I have jumped fully into the world of podcasts and audio books. This has been great for learning and processing things as I dive deeper into this journey of being a follower of Jesus and a pastor.

FullSizeRenderHowever, when I discovered about the recent Paris attacks days after it happened I felt a bit convicted that I had gotten a little too unplugged from the world. I hadn’t realized how disconnected I had been from what is going on, but now I am trying to find a balance.  So this week I have turned on the news. Being away from it for so long has made me hypersensitive to the things being presented in the news. I found myself being completely shocked by hearing sound bites of politicians saying things like how in America need to screen out and only let certain Syrian refugees in and refuse others. (What about the other human brothers and sisters fleeing for their lives, are they not worthy of help?) Then the reports about the Paris attacks included details of the trauma, the specifics about how and how many died, particulars about the impact on the community, culture and economy. However, when the news reported of bombs being dropped in retaliation details about death, destruction or trauma is not mentioned. All we hear is that bombs are dropped. The whole thing was just a shocking experience.

I know it is not right to cover my ears and eyes to the things around me, but at the same time it was hard to hear, see and witness the darkness. I also questioned how am I to be a voice of God’s loving righteousness and truth in the place I live? How am I to speak in such a way that I don’t just add to the noise of the news and social media? How do I participate in our baptismal call to resist evil if I remain blind to it? When death dealing words are being thrown around in all directions along with death dealing weapons I can’t help but wonder how am I supposed to fulfill God’s calling on our lives to love neighbor?

I am afraid that today I have more questions than answers. Despite the questions I have I enter into the waiting of Advent knowing and trusting that it was this kind of world that Jesus was born into. It is a world with name calling, lies, plots, scheming, brokenness, abuse of power, war, oppression, and genocide. But before I jump into Advent too quickly maybe I should remember that Jesus was born into this world to be a king and his kingdom is good and it looks like love and peace.  In the end this good king reigns.

God thank you for opening my eyes this week; sorry for keeping them shut. Jesus, teach me your good ways in which I should go. How do I love? How do I speak love and truth? When your baptismal waters washed over me a covenant was made to to renounce spiritual forces of wickedness, reject evil powers, accept Your great power to resist evil, injustice and oppression – Jesus show me the way. May your kingdom come. Amen.

 

 

______________—______________
If you are interested here is a list of some of the podcasts and books I’ve been listening to these past months:

  • Art of the Sermon (podcast)
  • TED Radio Hour (podcast)
  • Seven Minute Seminary (podcast)
  • Sermon’s from United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (podcast)
  • EntreLeadership (podcast)
  • Sermon Brainwave (podcast)
  • Your Move with Andy Stanley (podcast)
  • Sermonsmith (podcast)
  • Productive Pastor (podcast)
  • Dallas Willard lectures (podcast and iTunes U)
  • iTunes U has a set of lectures on C.S. Lewis
  • Duke Divinity Summer Institute Lectures (iTunes U)
  • Following Jesus: Biblical Reflection on Discipleship N.T. Wright (Book that I have my iPad read to me)
  • The Abolition of Man C.S. Lewis (audio book from public library)
  • The Great Divorce C. S. Lewis (audio book from public library)
  • The Class Meeting – Reclaiming a Forgotten (and Essential) Small Group Experience by Kevin M. Watson (iPad reading this this kindle book)
  • Good to Great in God’s Eyes by Chip Ingram (iPad reading this this kindle book)

 

Photo of Joy

While this photo might not seem like much I love looking at it.

IMG_0196 I was flipping through my phone and came across the picture and just couldn’t stop smiling. My Life Group had listened to Rev. Carolyn from Open Table Ministries share about her ministry with the homeless of our city of Durham. We prayed with her and as a group we decided to get involved by gathering warm winter wear and gear to help our neighbors who live in the woods. My family put together a small bag of hoodies that Caleb had outgrown and a few other things.  I was thinking that most everyone in the group would do the same. Well, I was happily proven wrong. Our little Life Group collected a bunch of stuff including comforters and clothes in volume greater than I expected.

God, thank you for images that remind us of miracles that you are still at work doing. Thank you that your Spirit still inspires and leads. God, thank you for the Joy of participating in your kingdom come. Amen. 

Thick As Blood

Christ-THe-KingThe Christian Year is wrapping up. Today we celebrate Reign of Christ. So as the Christian Year wraps up I found myself looking at THE END.

When Jesus tells stories of the end we are given a glimpse of the kingdom come where there will be no one hungry, no one thirsty, no strangers, no one naked and ashamed, no one sick, no one left alone and imprisoned. I found myself reflecting in joy that there are no strangers, no outsiders, no outcasts in God’s good future. This is a kingdom of friends. Better yet this is a kingdom of blood brothers and sisters. There are no strangers because through the power of the Holy Spirit by the blood of Jesus Christ we are closer than even what happens naturally in our earthly family. Through the blood of Christ the King all the barriers that could separate us are being brought down. All of our wonderful bonds of family and friendship in a beautiful glorious fashion provide only a glimpse of the peace and unity we are invited into  through the blood of Christ the King.

There is good news. Christ has prepared a table of grace for you. This great and glorious king, Jesus Christ, the son of God, by the power of the holy Spirit, reigns over all creation, The one who will come again to judge the living and the dead, and come in final victory is the one who calls us His blood sisters and blood brothers . In His life, death and resurrection, God has offered grace so that we can enter into his glorious kingdom and enjoy eternal life, and we are invited to live like that great end has come and participate in God feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, and visiting those in prison. We are invited to live together as blood brothers and sisters and not treat each other, or anyone, as strangers.

As the new year begins I look forward to living into the reign of Christ with you and surrendering to the ways of His peace and unity with God and you.

God of new beginnings and God of eternity, King of all creation, you hold the end of the story. Help us live, today with you as our great king, remembering the glorious end of the story. Inspired by the end, may we participate today in your destruction of strangers as we welcome each others and live in your peace and unity. Thanks for calling us your brothers and sisters.