July 2, 2017

Our Father: Thy Kingdom Come

Last week we looked at the “Hallowed be thy Name” phrase in the Lord’s Prayer. Our adventure this summer is delving deeply into each phrase in this very familiar prayer. Today, we move on to “Thy Kingdom come”.

I think it can be difficult to understand the concept of Kingdom in 21st Century America. We are very far removed from the hope of 1st Century Judea where the long-desired King would be like David or Solomon-the Messiah who would deliver the people from the oppression of Rome. Our images of kingdoms are most likely colored by fairy tales with princesses, castles, and dragons. King and Kingdom may conjure up the idea of an absolute ruler, or even a despot. 

How is the Kingdom of God different than these interpretations? I think it has to do with the difference in defining Kingdom in everyday vs. faith language.

As we study the Lord’s Prayer, we are speaking the language of faith, which is often at odds with the everyday language, even when the words are the same. On the June 21 Episcopal Café, Speaking to the Soul post, the author, Leslie Scoopmire, notes that at Pentecost “these disciples, many of them simple country folk, have just learned to speak other people’s language. I think that’s an important point for us too in the Church today: we are called to speak to people in their own languages first, rather than expect them to immediately understand the language of Christianity.”

Leslie goes on to say, “the disciples’ first new language came as a challenge even earlier, for them as well as us. As soon as those early disciples answered Jesus’s call to follow him, they had to learn the language of Jesus—a strange language, then and now, awash in a grammar of grace rather than a grammar of vengeance. We are still learning Jesus’s language of reconciliation today. It is the language of salvation, but not salvation for selfish ends. Rather, this language calls all disciples, them as well as us, to find the vocabulary for helping to repair the world and our relationships within it, with each other and ultimately, with God. This idea of responsibility of faithful people to repair the world is what our Jewish brothers and sisters call tikkun olam—the repair of the world...[And] that’s exactly what we are called to do as the Church.” 

Enter the Presence: The Kingdom we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer is one that will, according to Leslie Scoopmire, ‘repair the world and our relationships within it, with each other and ultimately, with God’.

Take some time to think about your definition of the word ‘Kingdom’. What alternative word might you use to better express the Kingdom of God to someone who might not necessarily be speaking the ‘language’ of faith or grace?

Stand In Awe: Paul reminds the Corinthians, “When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.” (I Corinthians 2:1-5)

It is ultimately the Spirit of God that opens the ears of the hearers to our proclamation. Like the disciples, speaking in the languages of the people in Jerusalem at Pentecost, we are able to speak to our friends and neighbors of the Kingdom in ways that they will understand when we put God first.

One way to start the transformation of ourselves and of the world is prayer. In the days leading up to Pentecost, the Archbishop of Canterbury invited people around the world to intentional prayer for Thy Kingdom Come. The website says, “Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray for more people to come to know Jesus. What started in 2016 as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England has grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer.” 
Involve your Heart: Leslie Scoopmire says, “We are called to speak to the soul of each precious person we encounter, and hear the echoed whisper of that goodness and love vibrating from them—especially when it’s hard for us to do so, when we allow our differences, our fears, or our suspicions to divide us rather than strengthen us. Words do matter when we are speaking to the soul, and the word is God and the Word is with God and with all of us.”

Use the ‘Pray for 5 Friends’ resource from “Thy Kingdom Come” to pray for 5 people who you may find different or difficult.   
Ask God to be King over the whole world by taking a map and physically placing a sticky note with local and world-wide prayer concerns on the map, or simply pray around the world with intention for places in the news.*

Continue your ZenTangle or Praying in Color activity that you may have started.

This week focus on Thy Kingdom Come.

Next week we will consider “They will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

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