Years ago I read Tales of Kingdom, the first of three books of allegories by David R. Mains and Karen Burton Mains, in which an orphaned boy and his younger brother escape from the Enchanted City and go towards where they have heard there is a king and trees.
They find themselves in a place called Great Park which is guarded by Rangers. The rangers call out to one another other, “How goes the world?” “The world goes not well!” comes the answer; “But the Kingdom comes!”, “The Kingdom comes!” they reply.
Once in Great Park, the boy learns that the king goes around in disguise so that he can be with his people, in whatever they are experiencing. In fact, it’s a game children like to play – to spot the King! Eventually, he learns to spot him and grows into a relationship and calling in which he owns the king’s values and methods.
In a recent conversation, someone spoke about the Kingdom of God as the Kin-dom of God. I wasn’t sure I had heard correctly but I had! It moves us from a hierarchical way of thinking about God, to a relationship-based model. Rather than being subjects in a kingdom, we are beloved relatives and friends, sons and daughters by adoption, part of the Body of Christ, working as God’s Kin-dom people in God’s world.
This summer has been a difficult and frightening one for so many people around the world and in our own country as well. Drought, heat waves, floods, fires, evacuations, smoke clouds from miles away, tornados, war, insurrection, disease, famine, political, social and climate instability, chaos. How can we take up the Lambeth Conference call to be “God’s people for God’s world” with all that worrisome stuff going on?
The letter to the Romans outlines some practices for those who want to live as God’s people:
“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:9-21 (NRSV)
“The world goes not well!” “But the Kin-dom comes!”