#Advent13: God’s Kingdom Is Here!

As we have done in years past, we are again blogging our way through the Advent Lectionary readings.  We love this season as it allows us to take time to slow ourselves down and walk between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It is time for us to live in full knowledge of the “Now” of the Kingdom without rushing the “Not Yet” of the Kingdom.  Thank you for being a part of this journey with us.  Our prayer is that these posts will serve as devotional meditations to focus your heart and mind on the imminent coming of our King!

A reading from the Gospel According to Matthew.

While Jesus was living in the Galilean hills, John, called “the Baptizer,” was preaching in the desert country of Judea. His message was simple and austere, like his desert surroundings: “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.”

John and his message were authorized by Isaiah’s prophecy: “Thunder in the desert!
 Prepare for God’s arrival!
 Make the road smooth and straight!”

John dressed in a camel-hair habit tied at the waist by a leather strap. He lived on a diet of locusts and wild field honey. People poured out of Jerusalem, Judea, and the Jordanian countryside to hear and see him in action. There at the Jordan River those who came to confess their sins were baptized into a changed life.

When John realized that a lot of Pharisees and Sadducees were showing up for a baptismal experience because it was becoming the popular thing to do, he exploded: “Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to make any difference? It’s your life that must change, not your skin! And don’t think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as father. Being a descendant of Abraham is neither here nor there. Descendants of Abraham are a dime a dozen. What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire.

“I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. The real action comes next: The main character in this drama—compared to him I’m a mere stagehand—will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.”

— Matthew 3:1-12 (The Message)

The Word of God for the people of God.

“God’s Kingdom is here!”

That was the cry that rang out from the river. That man was back. You know him. The one who wears the funny clothes and eats strange things. Yes, that man.

“God’s Kingdom is here!”

I know. We are still under occupation from a foreign army. I know. The soldiers forced me to do their bidding as well. No. The insurrections haven’t worked. We are still in darkness.

“God’s Kingdom is here!”

The that crazy man started talking about someone who was coming. A main character. He is going to give us the Holy Spirit. He is going to give us a Kingdom Life in exchange for our life.

“God’s Kingdom is here!”

He said that the one who was to come was going to show us truth. He was going to replace the things that weren’t true with that which was. It sounded a lot like Shalom. It sounded like the things missing were going to be found and the things broken were going to be fixed.

“God’s Kingdom is here!”

From the inside out, the One who is to come is going to change us. To make us whole. To make us complete. He is going to show the religious the path of righteousness–right legal and relational standing with God.

“God’s Kingdom is here!”

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