Monday, April 23, 2007

Kingdom Whispers

This weekend, I had the opportunity to return home to Bloomington to speak at the church I grew up in. My parents still attend there, and I am actually still listed as a member (and I think I shall remain so, but that's another subject for another time). So there are lots of strong ties at St. Paul. It was, of course, wonderful to spend some time in Indiana, and the weather was especially good to me. This, as opposed to the Christmas weather, which was most disappointing (cold with no snow!). This visit was particularly rewarding, though, because as I mentioned above I had the opportunity to give the sermon on Sunday morning. The occasion was St. Paul's annual Faith Promise Mission giving Sunday, and before you ask I'll explain, because I really like the way the church approaches their mission giving. Instead of using a portion of the tithes to support various and sundry missions that the church invests in, they designate one weekend a year to collect pledges for 'second-mile giving' - basically, the church commits to support the church with their tithe, and additionally chooses to support missions with whatever they feel led to give above and beyond the ten percent that goes to the church. The goal this year was for $40,000, which people commit to give throughout the year to the missions that the church has chosen. This year, there are nine different local, national, and international missions that they are supporting, one of which happens to be me and my work with the CCO! During the pledge Sunday every year for Faith Promise, they invite someone connected with one of their missions to come and speak. And this year, it was me!

I think the morning went really well! I don't feel 100% enthused about what I said, but that's probably just head trash getting to me. The best part about it was being able to speak to a group of people, many of who watched me grow up, and are now able to see me as a grown woman and as a "missionary." As one of my CCO coworkers said, I'm their star - the little girl who they taught in Sunday School who is now working in ministry. Overall, it was a lot of fun and a blessing to me - hopefully it was for them as well.

One of the things I shared that I am most excited about was the Kingdom of God. Volumes have been written on it, and I won't take the time to offer my limited explanation/understanding of it. But one of the things I mentioned on Sunday morning was that I feel strongly that the Kingdom of God provides us a context in which to do and understand ministry. I am still discovering the Kingdom, and figuring out what it means and how to communicate it to people, but what I'm finding is that it is everywhere! I believe my first introduction to it (that I remember) was in a Biblical Theology class in college. Then, when I came on staff with the CCO, it was a phrase that seemed to be tossed around a lot. My Christmas newsletter to my supporters had a lot of Kingdom-themes in it, and of course I spoke about it to my home church this past weekend. And tonight, I heard it in some lyrics of a favorite song. The Kingdom is everywhere!! Let me share the lyrics with you:

Welcome to the worldwide train wreck
Welcome to the come undone
Welcome to the big rejection
Welcome to the hit and run
Where mercy cries for everyone

Yeah, nothing is as good as it should be
'Cause this is the rehearsal
Yeah, in between the was and the could be
Love is the reversal

I believe we're underwater
I believe the engine's blown
Yeah I believe our secret longings
Tell us that we're not at home
But grace reclaims what the world disowns

Yeah, nothing is as good as it should be
'Cause this is the rehearsal
Yeah, in between the was and the could be
Love is the reversal

Love is the Reversal, by Starfield

The phrase that kept amazing me every time I heard it in the song was "in between what was and what could be." That is it! That is so it. We live in an in-between world, with the darkness of the way the world 'was' after sin and the fall, waiting in anticipation for what 'could be,' what is coming to us with the hope of final restoration. I do ministry for the in between, to participate with God in bringing the light and love of what could be to the darkness of what is now.

And so, with what are perhaps not my most eloquent words, but certainly passionate words, I encourage you all to open your eyes and start looking for the Kingdom - you will find it everywhere.

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