~ The Kingdom Within~
“The kingdom of God is within you.”
~ Luke 17:21
Dear Members and Friends,
“The kingdom of God is within you,” Jesus tells the people of his day. It’s not coming with a toppled regime or a bloodless coup. No one will say, “Look, it’s here!” or, “No, it’s over there!” There will be no inauguration addresses and parades. There will not be a whole new kind of coinage with Jesus’ profile on the silver dollars—or denarii. The kingdom comes within you. It grows silently, unwatched, like leaven in a loaf, like a seed sprouting into life. It happens without fanfare, but its coming changes everything.
That’s how a lot of things come, isn’t it? Things that endure tend to come on us slowly, over time, perhaps with a lot of intentional or unintentional practice. This is how habits form and attitudes develop. It’s how a distinct atmosphere is created in a family’s home—one of love and playfulness or one of silence and reserve. This is how our bodies change and grow, not usually in an observable way, but in a way that we see best when we revisit old photos. Children become young adults. Middle-aged adults become elderly. One becomes more stooped, another gains weight, another gains muscle, but it only happens when no one is looking.
I wonder what has been developing in us, unnoticed, in these pandemic times. We all went into this thing, back in March of 2020, thinking it would be over in a month or two and we’d just do things a little differently in the meantime—relax our standards a little, cut out anything that wasn’t necessary, indulge a little more in the interest of self-care. But then the pandemic dragged on and on, and some of those temporary measures have become our new norm. For example, I used to carry a briefcase into the office and never would have thought of wearing jeans. But during the pandemic, the church office was closed, so there was little need to make myself presentable while I was there. So I didn’t. Now? Even now that the office has long-since reopened, the briefcase has been replaced by a backpack, and you’ll occasionally even see denim—which was unthinkable prior to the pandemic.
October is lovely in its changefulness. I wish I could say the autumn leaves will change ever so slowly and share their beauty with us until Christmas. But leaves are a powerful symbol for transience. Things that endure tend to develop slowly. Allegiances, affections, enmities, kingdoms! They all grow within us over the course of time, depending on how we spend the long-but-far-from-endless trickle of moments that is allotted to us. Surely some unhealthy or unholy kingdoms have found fertile ground in our pandemic lives, too. With acts of kindness, simplicity, mercy, and peace let us attend daily to the kingdom’s coming within us. Let us practice the disciplines of that kingdom, attending to its commandments and taking part in its worship, its vision, its great dream for humankind. Let us take time to invite its coming with regular moments of silence, or meditation, or prayer. Someone once said that calamity doesn’t change us; it reveals us. We don’t know what the future holds for ourselves or our world, but there is a kingdom within that can bear us through any joy or ill in this life. Cultivate the kingdom within you.
ANNOUNCING OUR NEW OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR!
Please join us in welcoming Kim Digman to our church offices. Kim started on-the-job training in mid-September and will be flying solo in early October. Find an opportunity to introduce yourself and wish her well.