I wonder if Christians ever speak the Lord’s Prayer with a little more meaning during certain times in history. When famine strikes African nations, do they more desperately pray, “Give us this day our daily bread?” Or when we have to make a pivotal life decision, do we earnestly say, “Thy will be done?” When world wars break out, do we cling to the words, “Deliver us from evil?” What about now? Are recent events taking over our hearts and minds, gravitating us to a certain line in the Lord’s Prayer? What about, “Thy Kingdom come?” What a relief that would be from this broken, shattered, completely distraught world.
That world is still meddling over which lives matter more than the rest, a debate that has been raging since the beginning between nationalities and races and social classes and religions, and humanity has yet to embrace the yearning of Jesus Christ, “to love your neighbor as yourself,” and even your enemy. Instead, we have turned not simply to distrust and anger, but outright hatred and even heinous murder. After last Sunday, Joycelyn Jackson, sister to the slain African-American police officer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Montrell Jackson; she said, “It’s coming to the point where no lives matter.”
It’s the complete opposite message of the Gospel: that our God loves the entirety of the world to the point of death, so that all lives are redeemed, all humanity are overwhelmed with a sense of new life, hope, and beauty. And yet it feels we have lost all hope. We struggle immensely to find beauty in this world of ours. We wonder if there will ever be a sense of new life in the face of all this horror, not only for this generation, but for our children, and grandchildren.
So, yes, God: Your Kingdom better get here soon! We’re losing it now. We don’t know how much this world can take it anymore. We don’t know how much more we can take: all this violence, all this utter disregard for the sanctity of human life. We’re frightened. We’re terrified not only for ourselves, but for our neighbors, our public servants, and our children who have to grow up and witness our humanity tearing itself apart. We’re sick and tired of it! Yes, God, Your Kingdom better get here soon!
We need the trumpet blasts instilling a new and perfect Creation that you had in mind all along, because we clearly cannot pull it off ourselves. We need your Kingdom of no more crying, no more pain, no more hatred, no more fear, no more killings. We need your Kingdom when we can join hands together in praising you before a feast and celebration of eternal proportion. We need your Kingdom of peace and life everlasting that we wonder is even possible anymore. What more has to happen to convince you the time has more than come for Your Son to return and save us yet again from ourselves? What’s stopping you from the Kingdom coming right now?
But if it doesn’t come in the form of trumpet blasts and lions resting up against lambs, then it better show up in other ways! The Kingdom had better come through parents having conversations with their children about the value of human life across the board. It better show up in hundreds of police officers coming together to support their fallen comrades and their families. It better show up in public servants still walking in for work in spite of their own fears and the worry of their loved ones. It better show up in unity marches, and joining hands together in prayer across all racial and working class boundaries, in spite of the hatred seen round the world. The Kingdom better show up, and it most certainly has these past weeks.
The Kingdom may not be fully present just yet, but that doesn’t mean God still isn’t showing up on the scene of darkness and despair, because that’s when God tends to make the divine presence known the most. It happened on Calvary when death tried to take over the world for good. Death certainly made its presence felt for three whole days. But that’s all it got. Life won in the end. Christ won the victory, including for those whose life was stripped away far, far too soon. Death will make its presence felt for a time, yes, but God knows far too well the hideous terrain of it all. Jesus knows the way out!
So yes, we remain in a broken world, to say the least. Free will continues to tear humanity apart. And yet God through broken bread and poured out wine finds a way to reach out to children of God to instill healing and new life in spite of the hatred. God finds ways to work through public servants and taken-over-by-love citizens of humanity, and makes the Kingdom come to life nonetheless. It may not reach the headlines as much, but it will most certainly reach our heart. God will not sit back and watch. The Kingdom is most certainly coming to life right in front of our eyes every day, because Christ is still risen. Life has won the victory forevermore, and absolutely nothing in all of this Creation can take that away from any of us. And for that, we give thanks to God indeed! Amen.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Nan Dehnke, Pastor
Office: Mon - Thu: 9 a.m. - Noon