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The Kingdom In A World Of Pain

#Ukraine

#Iraq

#Syria

#Ebola

#Suicide

#Gaza

#Ferguson

Just a few of the “hot spots” in the news this morning. It's hard to see the hurt and pain and suffering around us. We struggle to understand how or why.

Or when.

When will the Kingdom finally come in all of it's glory and splendor and peace and comfort.

And lions laying down with lambs.

We proclaim it every Sunday. That great mystery of the faith. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

We exclaim that He is Risen. He is King. He is Ruler.

Yet.

Kyrie Elieson (Lord, have mercy.)

How do we reconcile those truths with the realities of the world around us?

How can we proclaim that the Kingdom has already come when it's quite clear that it hasn't?

There's the tension we live between. This knowledge that Jesus has come. And, with His coming the Kingdom has come. Yet, also, knowing that the fullness of the Kingdom lies in wait. Not yet here. But not so far away. But not all that close. But coming.

Last weekend, we were in Bella Vista, Arkansas with our friends at Highlands Church. In one of the workshops on prayer someone asked about this tension. How to do we reconcile the pain and suffering with the triumph of a Risen King? How do we pray?

At that time, my answer was we simply pray, “Your Kingdom come.” And, then, we work to bring His Kingdom. We stand in solidarity with the poor, and suffering, and marginalized, and hurting, and grieving, and cast out.

We drill water wells in places where people are dying of water-borne illnesses.

We nurse those sick with Ebola back to health.

We give families in Las Flores, Belmopan, Belize sacks of beans and rice and flour and sugar.

We go into the darkest places and proclaim that the King has come and is coming and will come.

And, we pray.

Your Kingdom Come.

When John's disciples came to Jesus in Matthew 11 and asked if He was the Messiah, Jesus didn't offer platitudes or speeches or definitions. He simply said, “The blind can now see. The deaf can now hear. The lame can now walk. The dead live again.”

And, yet, others remain blind, and deaf, and lame, and dead.

Tension.

Stretched somewhere between Kingdom has come and Kingdom will come.

It's easy–too easy–for Christians to offer words of comfort. “It'll be ok.” “Jesus is with you.” “The world is not my home.” “I'll fly away.”

And, while words of comfort are needed, words of comfort don't stop the bullets or the Ebola or the rockets or the bombs or the suicide.

Last Sunday, our Associate Pastor, Andy Nelms (@anelms), talked about anxiety and the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus in the midst of pain and suffering (you can watch the recording on our church's website). He made a statement that has stuck with me throughout the week.

God doesn't take our anxiety away. Rather, He repurposes it for His Kingdom.

In the midst of our pain, He doesn't airlift us out and make everything instantly better. Rather, He parachutes in and walks alongside us through it. He stands in solidarity with us in our pain and in our suffering and in the ugly of our life and turns it into a means of testimony to His goodness and mercy and grace and faithfulness.

And He calls us to the do the same. Stand alongside those who are hurting. Hold those who are in pain. Cry with them. Laugh with those who are rejoicing. Dance with those who can now walk.

Photos can be to us what parables were to Jesus. A way of illustrating the truths of the Kingdom by painting an image that sticks in the mind of the reader. Something that pops back into our mind's eye when we hear the phrase “Kingdom of God”.

And, in a timing that can only be God, as I was writing this post a friend posted a picture on Facebook of her two girls walking to school together this morning. It's the first day of a new school year. The older has been there and done that. Second grade. For the younger, this is the first time. Kindergarten.

They're walking down the sidewalk hand-in-hand. Older and younger. Old hat and new fears. Peace and anxiety. And, even in the old hat of it all, there lies an element of the unknown. What will be different? Will my friends be there? And, yet, they walk. Hand-in-hand.

Hand-in-hand.

Like the Kingdom of God.

Those of us who can walking with those of us who can't.

Hand-in-hand.

Everytime we recieve a revelation of the goodness or love or faithfulness or gentleness or mercy of God, we are obligated to share that with others. It's the way of the Kingdom. Giving away what you have.

I've been asked a couple of times in the past few weeks what our response as Christians should be to the challenges of the world around us. I really think it's quite simple. We should grab the hand of the hurting and walk with them. Step-by-step.

Like a second-grader walking to school hand-in-hand with her kindergartener sister.

For, that is what the Kingdom is like.

Our friends walking to school on their first day. Photo courtesy of their Mom.

Our friends walking to school on their first day. Photo courtesy of their Mom.

 

 

#Lent14 — Resurrection People

As we have done in previous Lent and Advent seasons, we are again blogging our way through the Lenten Lectionary Texts.  In this season, our prayer is that we will bless and inspire you in your walk between the Now and Not-Yet of the Kingdom.  We pray that our meditations will be life-giving to you in your journey.

A reading from the Gospel of John.

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him…

John 11:1-45 (ESV)

This is the Word of The Lord.

Today’s blog comes in video form.

#Lent14 — Resurrection People from Led By The Word on Vimeo.

#Advent13: Even In The Mess

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.

John, meanwhile, had been locked up in prison.  When he got wind of what Jesus was doing, he sent his own disciples to ask, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?”

Jesus told them, “Go back and tell John what’s going on: The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.  Is this what you were expecting?  Then count yourselves most blessed!”

When John’s disciples left to report, Jesus started talking to the crowd about John.  “What did you expect when you went out to see him in the wild?  A weekend camper?  Hardly.  What then?  A sheik in silk pajamas?  Not in the wilderness, not by a long shot.  What then?  A prophet?  That’s right, a prophet!  Probably the best prophet you’ll ever hear.  He is the prophet that Malachi announced when he wrote, ‘I’m sending my prophet ahead of you, to make the road smooth for you.’”

“Let me tell you what’s going on here: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer; but in the Kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him.  For a long time now people have tried to force themselves into God’s Kingdom.  But if you read the books of the Prophets and God’s Law closely, you will see them culminate in John, teaming up with him in preparing the way for the Messiah of the Kingdom.  Looked at in this way, John is the ‘Elijah’ you’ve all been expecting to arrive and introduce the Messiah.”

— Matthew 11:2-14 (The Message)

The Word of God for the people of God.

We looked briefly at this story in yesterday’s post.  Jesus, defining for John’s disciples, the Kingdom of Heaven merely by pointing out what’s happening around them.

Notice, Jesus doesn’t say that Rome—their oppressors—are leaving.  Jesus doesn’t say that they all suddenly have food to eat, clothes to wear, and roofs to protect them.  Jesus doesn’t say that their external circumstances have changed.  

Instead, Jesus points to the things that—despite the external circumstances—have changed.  The lives that were one way and are now another.  Things that had been broken have been fixed.  Things that were missing have been found.

As we mentioned yesterday, it is critical that we understand that the gifts of Advent—hope, peace, joy, and love—are not contingent on the circumstances of which we find ourselves in the midst.  The mess of life does not change the impact of the Kingdom.  The Kingdom comes even in the messiest of messes.  The Kingdom of God can break in no matter the depth of pain that you might be walking through.  

For the early first century Jews, it looked impossible for the Messiah—the One whom they had been hoping for over a millennia would come—to arrive on the scene.  They were oppressed.  They were downtrodden.  Their very cultural identity was—again—at stake.  They were taxed unfair.  They could be forced to labor at the mere whim of a soldier.  They could be arrested for merely talking about how new leadership might make things better.  

And, it was into this mess that John the Baptist was born and began his work.

People had heard the things that John was teaching in the wilderness.  So, they went to see him.  Unsure of what to expect, but surely not expecting camel hair clothes and locust snacks.  Nevertheless, they came.  And in their coming, they learned that the Kingdom was at hand.  They learned that the culmination of thousands of years of prophecies and laws was nearly here.

The Messiah was coming.  Hope was soon to be fulfilled.  

And, then comes Jesus.  Water turned to wine.  Blind people see.  Deaf people her.  Fishermen become followers.  

More important than those miraculous signs of the Kingdom (for the miraculous follows the Kingdom) was the message that He preached.  His message wasn’t merely a message of rescue from hell.  Rather, it was a message of wholeness.  It was a message of completeness.  It was the invitation to begin now to live in the Kingdom.

The Gospel that Jesus preached was the Gospel of the Kingdom.  It was the Good News that Shalom—nothing missing, nothing broken—had come.  

Yet, we must remember that Shalom can exist even when things around us are broken.  It can thrive even when things are missing.  Why?  Because, shalom has nothing to do with the external things that surround it.  Rather it has everything to do with the transformation of our lives.  

And, so, John’s disciples come into the room wondering what they would find.  I wonder if they felt similar feelings to when they went into the wilderness to hear John’s message.  They enter the room.  They ask their question.  

Jesus responds.

They understand.

Kingdom has come.  External circumstances are still pretty bleak.  John is still in prison (soon to be beheaded).  Yet, they understand.

Kingdom has come.

And, now, we’re left with a similar charge as that which John—and his disciples—had.  First, go and proclaim that the Kingdom is near at hand.  Prepare the way for the King to enter into the messes of the world.  Second, go and see how the Kingdom is changing lives in the midst of even the ugliest of situations.

Kingdom has come.  Kingdom is coming.

Drilling a water well in Guatemala with Living Water

Drilling a water well in Guatemala with Living Water

#Advent13: The Kingdom Looks Like

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 Psalms.

Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them. He remains faithful forever, executing justice for the exploited and giving food to the hungry.

The LORD frees prisoners.

The LORD opens the eyes of the blind.

The LORD raises up those who are oppressed.

The LORD loves the righteous.

The LORD protects foreigners and helps the fatherless and the widow, but He frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The LORD reigns forever; Zion, your God reigns for all generations. Hallelujah!

—Psalm 146:5-10 (HCSB)

The Word of God for the people of God.

Again, in today’s reading, we’re given a glimpse of the Kingdom. It shows us what it looks like when the King comes. It shows us shalom—nothing missing, nothing broken.

As I read the passages for yesterday in the prayer book that I use (Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro), I was reminded of Jesus’ response to the disciples of John The Baptist in Matthew 11. John’s disciples come and ask Jesus if He is the One for whom they had been waiting. Is He the King? Is He the Messiah?

Jesus replies, “Go back and tell John what’s going on: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side. Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!” (Matthew 11:4-6, The Message)

The beauty of the Kingdom is that when the King comes things change.

As we look around at the situations in the world where brokenness and pain seem to reign, we pray “Your Kingdom Come.” Because, we have come to learn that the only thing that can set things right is the Kingdom coming. The only thing that can set the prisoners free, make the blind see, lift up the heads of the oppressed, protect the foreigner, orphan and widows is the Kingdom of God.

That is the message of Advent. Advent is a time where we proclaim to the world that a new King is coming—and with Him comes a new Kingdom!

As we walk to the manger, let us walk with our heads held high in hope. We walk in confidence and joy in the goodness of God. God, who is Creator, has not abandoned His creation. Instead, He has invaded it and in His invasion He re-creates it.

He brings newness.

He brings wholeness.

He fixes what is broken.

He finds what is missing.

And, as His representatives—Ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)—we are called to bring that Kingdom into every place we go. We are called to speak hope and joy and life to every person with whom we have contact. We are called to live differently.

As we walk the remainder of this Advent journey, let us walk with the knowledge that the gifts of Advent—Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love—are not contingent upon external circumstances. Rather, they stand in opposition to external circumstances. Even in the midst of the most messy of conditions, the Kingdom can still come. It can—and does—still emerge.

Our lives—when lived as citizens of this Kingdom—are to be bringers of the Kingdom. Our Psalm today gives us specific ways in which we can introduce the Kingdom to people.

Free the prisoners.

Open the eyes of the blind.

Raise the heads of the oppressed.

Love the righteous.

Protect the foreigners.

Be fathers (and mothers) to the orphans.

Care for the widows.

Proclaim to the world that a new King is coming—and has already come!

—————

326199: Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary RadicalsBy Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove & Enuma Okoro / ZondervanA tapestry of prayer, songs, and liturgy to help today’s diverse Christians pray and worship together! This rich collection makes liturgy “dance”—taking the best of the old and reinvigorating it with fresh energy for contemporary renewal. The music section features over 50 songs from various traditions including African spirituals, traditional hymns, and Taize chants. 512 pages, hardcover from Zondervan.

#Advent13: Celebrating in Suffering

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 Epistle to the Romans.

And that’s not all.  We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters.  When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness.  And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love.

When the time was right, the Anointed One died for all of us who were far from God, powerless, and weak.  Now it is rare to find someone willing to die for an upright person, although it’s possible that someone may give up his life for one who is truly good.  But think about this: while we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display—the Anointed One died for us.  As a result the blood of Jesus has made us right with God now, and certainly we will be rescued by Him from God’s wrath in the future.  If we were in the heat of combat with God when His Son reconciled us by laying down His life, then how much more will we be saved by Jesus’ resurrection life?  In fact, we stand now reconciled and at peace with God.  That’s why we celebrate in God through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed.

— Romans 15:4-13 (The Voice)

The Word of God for the people of God.

Do you celebrate in times of suffering?

That’s a tough thing.  When things are going hard.  When the circumstances look dismal.  When there appears to be no good way out.

Do you celebrate?

Paul, who wrote this epistle, knew a thing or two about suffering.  He knew how hard this whole Jesus-Follower life could be.  He’d been beaten a couple of times by this point in his career.  He’s been in prison.  He’s found struggles at many turns.

And, here, he tells us to celebrate in seasons of sufferings.

Rejoice when it’s hard!

A couple of things that we have to establish before we can even talk about celebrating in suffering.

First, when we decide to give our lives—the WHOLE thing—to Jesus, life doesn’t immediately get all happy-go-lucky.  Trouble will come.  The Kingdom is not realized in its fullness at the immediate point of our decision to follow.  Life will be hard.  People will still die.  We will still get sick.  We still have to pay bills.  We still have to walk through dark times.

Second, when we decide to give our lives—the WHOLE thing—to Jesus, we don’t have to wait until we die for the Kingdom to be realized in fullness.  Salvation is more than just a promise to not go to hell.  Heaven is more than just something for which we wait.  It is something that begins at the point of decision.

The Kingdom of Heaven is both now and not yet.  It is both a present reality and a promise to be fulfilled.  And, life is lived in the in-between.

Because, we live somewhere between the now and the not yet, we are assured that sufferings will come.  Yet, we are also assured that we can hope—even celebrate—during those sufferings.

The Anointed One—Messiah—came.  He died for us.  He gave His life that we might live.  He brought us the Kingdom.  He ushered it in—the now—and promised that the day will come when it will be fully realized—the not yet.  The day when lion and lamb lay down in the field together.  The day when earth is reborn into the reality that God has intended for it from the moment of creation.

And, somewhere, in-between the two, we celebrate in sufferings.  We rejoice when times are good.  When things are going in a way that doesn’t hurt.  And, we rejoice in the times when they aren’t.

We rejoice not because we have some warped view of pain, but rather, because we know that the pain is temporary.

It’s in this hope—confident and joyful expectation in the goodness of God—for the fullness of the Kingdom that we can celebrate in our sufferings.  Because, our sufferings build within us character.  They form us into the person who God wants us to be—someone fully dependent on Him.

So, rejoice in your sufferings.  They build character.  They make you dependent on Him and His Kingdom.

What’s all this have to do with Advent.

Advent is a time where we remember with the Israelites the promise.  The promise that says, “A King is coming!”  It is the promise of Shalom—nothing missing, nothing broken—breaking into the midst of our mess.  It is the promise of “orderly order” emerging from “chaos” (John 1).  It is the promise that “what God wants done will indeed be done” (Dallas Willard).

And, so as we walk between the promise and the manger, we walk with our heads up.  We walk with celebration in our step.

Even though, times might be hard.

Even though, we might have lost  a loved one.

Even though, we might have been diagnosed with tragedy.

Even though, we might be faced with uncertainty in our income.

Even though, we might be at the end of our paycheck with bills left to pay.

We rejoice.  Because, we know that the Kingdom is here, and is still to be fulfilled.  We rejoice because we know that even in our heartaches and disappointments God is working out our characters.  We are growing more dependent on Him and His Kingdom.

So, celebrate in your sufferings!  The King is coming!  And, when the King comes, the Kingdom comes with Him!

Sunset in La Vista, Guatemala.

Sunset in La Vista, Guatemala

 

#Advent13: Swords, Plows, and Kingdoms

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 Prophet Isaiah.

This is a vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s house will be the highest of all–the most important place on earth.  It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.  People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of Jacob’s God.  There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.”  For the LORD’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem.  The LORD will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes.  They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.

Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD!

— Isaiah 2:1-5 (NLT)

The Word of God for the people of God.

In the midst of a nation that is about to be attacked, then occupied, and finally exiled, we find a prophet.  Yet, this message isn’t a message of war.  It’s one of peace.  It’s one that speaks to something bigger than the reality of the situation.

And, it is this passage that we find us kicking off #Advent13.

The world is a much different place than 2800 years ago when Isaiah was penning these words, yet some realities remain.  Much of the world is in war, occupation, or exile.  Millions of people around the globe go to bed every night wondering if they will die during the night by gunshot, bomb, or some other senseless attack.

Yet, we hear the voice of Isaiah calling us to beat our swords and spears (or our guns and drones as they would be better recognized in modern times) to plowshares and pruning hooks.

We often read this passage and think that Isaiah is talking about some grandiose world-wide absence of war.  While that is a part of what he is prophesying, there is a much larger message to be heard.  It is a message of peace in the now.

It is the message of the Kingdom of God.

It is the message of shalom–nothing missing, nothing broken.

Shalom.  That word that we often just translate as “peace” means so much more than that.  Shalom is not the absence of conflict.  Shalom is the knowledge that even in the midst of our conflict (be it within us or external to us), God is working to ensure that that which is broken will be repair and that which is missing will be found.

And, in this passage, we hear Isaiah’s admonition to be bringers of Shalom.  To cease the warring (both within our own self and also within the world).

To cease the struggle.

To cease the battle.

To cease the “must win” attitudes.

To settle into the Kingdom reality of nothing missing and nothing broken.

It is in this place of shalom–Kingdom–that the Lord’s mountain–Kingdom–rises up and beckons for the nations (read people-groups) to come.

And, so we begin our walk to Christmas.  Knowing that in just a few short nights, the King will be born.  And, this promise of peace…

…this promise of shalom…

…this promise of nothing missing…

…this promise of nothing broken…

…this promise of Messiah…

…this promise of Immanuel–God WITH us…

…will come to be.

This promise will move from being words proclaimed by a prophet to words walked out by a King.

AND, by His followers.

See, here’s where we often miss Isaiah’s point.  We view this prophecy as an “end of the world” kind of thing.  We interpret it to be specific to a plot of land along the Mediterranean Sea.  And, in doing so, we miss the blessing.  We miss the beauty of the Kingdom.

While the Kingdom does indeed have an element of “not yet” to it, it also is a Kingdom of now.  A Kingdom lived into by all of the followers of the King.

So, as we walk to the manager, let’s not get so wrapped up in the “not yet” that we miss the beauty of the “now”.  Let’s not miss the beauty of the ability for us to beat swords and spears into plows and pruning hooks now.

And, as we walk, we proclaim that the KING is coming.  And, when the KING comes, so does the KINGDOM!

Walk with us to the mountain–KINGDOM–of the LORD!

A Drone in Central Asia.

A Drone in Central Asia.