“Thy Kingdom Come…”
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Posted by Elk Grove Presbyterian Church on Sunday, August 2, 2020
Matthew 6: 9-13
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
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We continue this morning our study of The Lord’s Prayer, the very prayer Jesus taught his disciples. You will remember that last week we looked at the very first two lines of the prayer. “Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be your name.” Jesus was concerned about our motive or (purpose, motivation, intention, aim) in praying. We concluded that perhaps cultivating the right motive means that we recognize who God is and seek to be in God’s presence and this will lead us to this amazing encounter with the living God; an encounter that opens our hearts to know the character, the mind, and the heart of God. That’s something to think about, isn’t it?
So now that we begin prayer by seeking to know who God is and recognizing the Holiness of God, The Lord’s Prayer then leads us into this place of recognizing our connection to the living God. It is this connection then that allows us to know God well enough to join with God in making the words in the next part of the prayer a reality. And this is the focus of our sermon today, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” Wait a minute here…we are actually praying that God’s kingdom, God’s reign and God’s very will, for our lives will become a reality here on earth? Do you hear me…I don’t hear in this prayer words such as, “When I get to heaven things will get better, when I get to heaven this will happen…our prayer, The Lord’s Prayer is affirming that all our hopes and dreams for what heaven will be like, can actually be fulfilled right here, right now on earth. Living here on earth can be the same as living in heaven! You mean we don’t have to wait? If Jesus is saying to the disciples this is what they need to be asking for, praying for, then it must be that this can really happen.
Let’s start by thinking about what we envision heaven to be like. Each of you has a different vision you know. What is yours? Well, it’s beautiful for sure! Everything is peaceful and calm. There’s no violence or hatred, no drug addictions, no poverty, no depression, the relationships we have with others are full of love and joy. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
What if God’s kingdom is breaking into the world right now? Could it be?
Just yesterday, I read in the Washington Post story about woman named, Bev Boro, she is a medication aide in a rehabilitation center in Nebraska. Let me tell you a little bit more about Bev. You see growing up she was one of 10 children. They all ended up in the foster care system, each separately put up for adoption. She said she had found most of her siblings, but she had been looking for years to find her oldest sister. She had even given up on the possibility of seeing her. She said this, “I never thought I’d find her, never.” But then this happened, here she is working at her regular job as an aide, when she just happened to notice this name of the list of patients, it looked familiar, it triggered something within her, and she even recounts her heart starting to beat faster and faster. There lying in the bed right before her was her lost sister Doris. Now I want to make sure to get this. Bev had been looking all over the country to find her sister, using all the connections she had, and her sister appears before her in her place of work! Her long lost sister, Doris was found! When later interviewed, Doris, who now is in her 70’s and is a little hard of hearing) said this, everything she went through was worth it, in fact, she considers the complications from Covid-19 to be a blessing; a blessing because it brought her to her family. Long lost siblings finally united…heaven on earth I would say!
Heaven often breaks into the world in unexpected ways. How about the mother who has 4 small children and her husband walks out on her, I mean literally leaves her. She is left alone to provide for her family and raise her children. But then, this unexpected love finds its way into her heart. She meets this man who joyfully wants to join her family. Heaven on earth it is!
Sometimes heaven comes to earth in these unexpected ways. Doris meeting Bev, this abandoned woman finding love again…I’m sure each of you have your own “heaven on earth” story to tell. But sometimes for heaven to come to earth action is required: maybe some sacrifice, some effort, a desire to make a change for the better.
Gandhi says this, Be the change you wish to see in the world. Perhaps when praying The Lord’s Prayer and saying “thy kingdom come, thy will be done” we are asking to join the living God in making heaven truly come to earth. Professor Wangari Maathai a Nobel Peace Prize winner is a woman who understood the personal effort it takes to bring positive change into the world. (For me it seems equivalent to making heaven come to earth) Maathai grew concerned about the environmental devastation created in Nairobi by widespread deforestation. She recognized that a massive replanting program could both save the land and provide a source of income for Nairobi’s poor. So, in 1977 she founded a small local organization that paid Nairobi women to plant trees. The organization soon grew into a nationwide and then pan-African one known as the Greenbelt Movement. Since its inception, the movement has planted upwards of forty million trees in Africa and provided sources of income for nearly one million women. Through the Green Belt Movement, thousands of ordinary citizens were mobilized and empowered to take action and effect change. Now, this is interesting, in time, the image of the tree became a symbol for peace and conflict resolution…eliminating poverty, taking care of the environment, working toward peace and conflict resolution. This is sounding more and more like heaven on earth! “
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
As heaven comes to earth, through those unexpected experiences of lost sisters, now found, from lost love to new-found love, from planting trees, providing needed income for women living in poverty, working toward peace and conflict resolution…
In all these ways God’s will is being done. For I believe God’s will is that heaven will indeed be on earth and we can have a life right here, right now that makes us think, We Are in Heaven!