This Sunday, Oct 21, we continue our Sermon Series on the Lord’s Prayer.
What comes to your mind when you hear the term ‘kingdom’? Is it knights in shining armour, or the pomp and circumstance of a royal wedding? Or something less romantic – sinister even? Images of traditionalism, classism, even sexism? Not for nothing does the writer of the Old Testament book of Daniel insist on using the term “kingdom” to describe the Dream of God. He knows his listeners and hearers have imaginations stuffed full of empires past and present, of fiercely armed warriors from Persia or Macedonia, of parades of military might, and social oppression of 95% of the population.
“BUT”, he says, “the kingdom of God is like none of these! Where you see might and violence, God’s kingdom is one of peace. Where the kingdoms of this earth oppress the poor, God raises them up to a place of honour….” and so the picture goes on.
This Danielic vision fuelled the spiritual imagination of Jesus of Nazareth. When came back from the wilderness, preaching that the Kingdom of God is here, close at hand, he too set up the vision of God’s kingdom in direct contradistinction to the ruling Empire of Rome.
If this is the case, then whenever we pray the Lord’s Prayer ” Thy kingdom come”, we have some imaginative reversals to conduct before we can grasp the import of what we’re saying. Asking for God’s Kingdom to come has nothing to do with mighty armies, or structures of governance, or violent overthrow. Jesus’ images of the Kingdom of God on earth involve widows and a tiny coin, small seeds that grow into trees, the yeast that leavens a loaf of bread, the catch of fish that has all sorts of species, great and small, of night-time prayers, and roadside meals. The kingdom of God is populated by lepers, mentally ill, physically disabled, foreigners, widows, children, and tax collectors. The kingdom of God works subversively under the nose of oppressive regimes to create fellowship and freedom.
As you pray for the kingdom of God on earth, of what does your heart’s prayer consist? For what do you hope and pray?
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