Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. And so it goes, the Lord’s Prayer, that familiar gift of words that we say all the time, but I wonder if we are really ready for what the words ask of us? Over this last week, 20+ kids have attended our annual Vacation Bible School, whose theme was Thy Kingdom Come. Listening through the Lord's prayer, in crafts, games, stories, and food, together we explored what it means to live a life united to God in action for our world. In a world as fraut as ours these days, listening to the joy and excitement of our kids praying for the kingdom I started to wonder how it is we can live this kingdom life of faith in the everyday- an everyday surrounded by choices, challenges, and rejection. How do we live our faith as a way of life? Our Gospel this morning has some ideas for us!
The Gospel of Mark, through its investigative tone, gets to the brass tacks of life. There are no huge poetic moments, rather, there are just the facts and only the facts. Think to the context of this Gospel when it was written, we were still engaged in a spoken history but as our community began to expand beyond the initial members and towns of the Jesus Movement, there was need to write things down so that others would know what it was this movement was all about. So for us in Mark details matter and are important. This morning we see Jesus go into his home town to preach and teach and receives a rather bumpy reception. Here are the people who know him the best, who know his family and his friends, and are also the ones that question his honour. This was a huge deal in Christ’s time in the same way it is for us today. Pride and honour, as personal characteristics, are ways in which we navigate how we want to engage with someone. Think of that time you applied for a loan at the bank and showed up well groomed with your best smile and handshake. Or that time you met a new friend and wanted to impress them. We want to bring and highlight pride and honour to our life because it helps us understand how we fit into our world. It gives a sense of accomplishment and success, or does it? Sometimes our best handshake or most impressive achievements still mean we get denied for the loan and our new friend starts to drift away. Sometimes like Jesus, we are not able to do any good deed of power. But why?
Let's think through the lens of the gospel here, and hear how Jesus was rejected but still went on healing and treating sick people in the surrounding area. Jesus did not give up, he kept going and in doing so opened up a window between following the status quo and following him. Jesus’ life is one which is marked by persistence in the name of the Kingdom, however this moment is different, because he starts to invite people to live. In the second half of the gospel we hear how Jesus first calls the 12 to go out two-by-two into the world giving them authority over unclean spirits. Jesus was rejected and then calls from the midst of his rejection 12 to go with authority into the world to heal and bring life. As scholars suggest regarding the sociological make up of this faith in the Mediterranean life of Christ time, what is happening for us here is a real and lived experience of life, rather than an internal and theoretical one. These people were not believing in some distant context, Jesus was not asking for intellectual assent, this was a kingdom moment of moving their life into the direction of Christs.
To live a Jesus life. As we pray the Lord's Prayer, I wonder if we are aware of the impact these words have. They are not simply hopes and dreams, they are daring attestations against the Romans of our world. Of greed and poverty, isolation and slavery, of abuse and power, or phobia and exclusion. The statements of our lord's prayer are what Marks focus point on Christ’s call to faith is all about, it is a requirement for us to stand within a community of obedience to God. This morning is about us standing with and for the kingdom, in a world which will draw our attentions in many different ways and directions. The world is not evil inherently, but our actions can lead to evil, so how do we live this kingdom life of faith? Through a Rule of Life- which I call a way of life.
Think about it for a moment, our petition to God in the Lord's prayer “Your kingdom Come” is not a far off distant hope, but a real and present hope that this kingdom can come in our own time. Within this petition is a sense of deeper listening or obedience to God’s call on our lives, a deeper listening which is shared with a rule of life. A Rule is a gift of kingdom faith within our life, in that it helps us orientate our everyday lives into Jesus. A rule of life sets out for us the ways we want to live because of Jesus, at whose name we are invited into abundant life. This is not something just for the super pious or monastics, its for the everyday. Think of our own patterns, our daily schedules. A Rule of Life helps us navigate those schedules through the lens of Christ, and while there are many ways to enter into this work here are four point’s I think we can start that together.
- Self-Care: Carve out space for yourself in your schedule where you are fed emotionally.
- Learn: Reflect on scripture and wrestle with the life of Christ everyday
- Share: Share your faith, invite others into this trans-formative life
- Worship: Be in community weekly to give and receive in order to be differently in the world.
Sabbath, Learning, Sharing, and Worship are four ways we already structure our life here in this parish, but today I invite us to take these into our everyday life. Let us find ways this week to be:
- at rest, spoil yourself with your favorite meal, or that glass of wine on the patio at sunset. Maybe it's that great book you want to read, or the art gallery. Lavish yourself in God's time.
- reflecting on scripture daily. Start or end your day with the daily office. Perhaps you just read the gospel every morning before you start your day, using it as a window into how you see the world that day. Wrestle with the life of Jesus everyday, because it is his life we are called to live.
- world the beauty and mystery of who we believe in.
- Worshiping with the generosity of God’s abundance in our lives. Bringing our questions and our fears, our doubts and our joys to be in a community which believes in a God big enough to handle our anger and celebrate our Joy.
Write your Rule of life down somewhere, remembering that it is not meant to be a burden but a trans-formative gift of life. Reflect on your areas of self-care, learning, sharing, and worship monthly, offering them to God in your prayers. A rule of life is meant to be an emancipator, rather than a burden.
Jesus is forming and calling us to live a pattern of faith in which his kingdom comes today, a kingdom through which we are given a way of life to live in our everyday world. How will you pattern your life to respond to Jesus’ call to life this week?