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"Thy Kingdom Come"

But as with so many things, while God could do this alone, God seems to prefer to share the work by involving us in creating (or revealing) this blessed kingdom.

artwork “Peaceable Kingdom” by David Sheskin
1. “Peaceable Kingdom” by David Sheskin

Isaiah 65:17-25

November 13, 2022

Dr. Todd R. Wright “Thy kingdom come …” – we pray that phrase almost every week. We prayed it a couple weeks ago when we worshiped with Trinity Lutheran. We prayed it again on Monday at Albert Dery’s funeral at St. Agnes Catholic. Over and over we ask God to create (or reveal) a heavenly kingdom right here in our midst. In doing so, we make clear that we are not satisfied with the kingdom in which we live. Even though we love this country, we still pray for God to sweep in and make it better; even though we believe that representative democracy is better than all other options, we still place our highest trust in God, not in elected officials; and even though we voted on Tuesday as a way to mold government, to refine it, to improve it, we do not stop, we cannot stop praying, “Thy kingdom come!”

 

Our prayers acknowledge we are lacking something …

in this place, in this time … because if you listen carefully, it is still possible to hear weeping and cries of distress in ICUs and prison visiting rooms, but also outside schools and stores, just beyond the police tape; and there are still infants who live only a few days, a few hours, a few minutes, and youth, and adults, and old people who are gone too soon;

We admit this lack in the current set-up, because the evidence is there for all to see … people who labor in restaurant kitchens and on construction sites, on roofs and in yards, but do not get to enjoy the full fruit of all that labor, or else there would be no need for food pantries and homeless shelters; as well as people who are battered by violence – not by lions or wolves – but by abusers and predators, by oppressors and exploiters, by enemies … and by those they thought they could trust. And so we pray, “Thy kingdom come!”

 

We do so, not just because it is part of the prayer Jesus taught his disciples, but because of the promises God made to Israel in the wake of the Exile. They had seen their share of failed kingdoms – the disappointing, dysfunctional one led by a procession of kings who exhibited little of the faith or courage or compassion of David; the Babylonian one that destroyed Jerusalem and turned them into captives in a strange land; and the shell of one they returned to find could not meet their yearnings for safety or justice, for opportunity or even the bare necessities. So God whispers to the prophet Isaiah, and Isaiah shouts to the people a description of what a heavenly kingdom will look like: It will be so good that it will erase the memories and the nightmares of the former things. It will not just bandage wounds; it will create joy! The soundtrack of Jerusalem will be laughter not weeping! NICUs will be closed, unnecessary! And birthday cards for centenarians will be stocked at checkout with gum and gift cards!

Smiling, Isaiah takes a deep breath and continues: No more losing the family home to foreclosure or bankruptcy! No more planting fields only to have an enemy confiscate it or burn the grain! Work will produce satisfaction and children will not be a source of worry or tears! No more unanswered prayers and no more wondering if God loves you! Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill anywhere God’s face shines!

 

It must have sounded like paradise! It must have sounded too good to be true! And it was since it did not come to pass with a snap of God’s fingers. But the promise was made. God said, “I am about to create new heavens and a new earth!” God’s people have been waiting ever since. And so we pray, “Thy kingdom come …” But as with so many things, while God could do this alone, God seems to prefer to share the work by involving us in creating (or revealing) this blessed kingdom. Perhaps that is why when our Book of Order lists the purpose of the Church, it does not stop with proclaiming the gospel, or encouraging people to worship God, or making sure telling the truth doesn’t go out of style, or promoting a healthy society. It ends by saying we are to exhibit the kingdom of heaven to the world![2] So ask yourself, can our neighbors, who are praying some version of “Thy kingdom come!”, see the promised new heaven and earth exhibited in the way we act in the community? What does it take to carry out that ministry? To be a partial answer to their prayers? You know. You’ve pledged your support today. It’s the start of our answer. May God bring it to completion! Amen.

[1] “Peaceable Kingdom” by David Sheskin [2] See The Book of Order, F-1.0304
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