Wednesday, September 12, 2018

September 12, 2018  

Luke 10:1-12

This past Sunday Pastor Melissa Melnick was here with friends, her sister, and folks from her church in Richfield, MN. Pastor Melissa is on a journey in memory of her son Chris, who died a year ago. Chris accidently drowned in the Mississippi River. As Melissa describes him, Chris was an outgoing, compassionate young man who wrote poetry, cared about the world, and loved the river. He planned to ride the length of the Mississippi as a treat to himself after he graduated from college. When he was lost in the river (they didn’t find his body for 10 days) Melissa made a promise, that she would ride the river road with Chris if he was found alive, or in his memory.

This past week she began her journey in his memory.

When I offered our congregation as a place to stop on her journey, Pastor Melissa offered to preach at our service. She pastors a mission congregation that is engaged in outreach. Their congregation is diverse, with Hispanic, African American, Caucasian, Chinese, young, old, LGBTQ folks gathering twice a month in the evening for three things:

  • Worship
  • Food
  • Education

The congregation, called Tapestry, offers English as a Second Language classes and Spanish Classes. They practice the spiritual discipline of hospitality, much like we do. In fact, when they were here for breakfast Sunday, it was noted that each of them when they cleared their plates, also took the plate or plates of someone else to the kitchen to be cleaned.

The reading from Luke is the text Pastor Melissa chose to preach on. I’m not going to share her sermon with you. But I have a few thoughts of my own on the text I want to share in the context of Pastor Melissa’s visit and the work she does with her people.

Twice in the reading Jesus instructed the people he sent out to tell the people they visited “The kingdom of God has come near.”

The kingdom of God has come near.

So often, I think people hear those words as a threat—the kingdom of God has come near, so you better make a choice. Choose Jesus or not. Receive Jesus or not.

This past weekend has led me to think differently about God’s kingdom coming near. Maybe I’m thinking differently because of my sermon last Wednesday—and my thoughts about God’s love coming to us and then flowing through us to others.

What a blessing it is to receive and experience God’s love! And then, to be with others who know the same joy!

Sunday afternoon, the people from Tapestry (Pastor Melissa’s church) all came over to my house. Martha is a Mexican woman who speaks little English. She came into the house carrying a bag of groceries. Pastor Melissa told me Martha wanted to cook for us. Ok! So Martha and I stood in the kitchen trying to communicate with each other, her trying to tell me what she needed to cook, me trying to figure out what she was telling me and then find what she needed. It was fun. It was funny. The food she cooked was wonderful. It was such a moment of joy and pleasure to all be standing together in my kitchen, eating Chilaquiles.

The kingdom of God has come near.

When we gather together as children of God, and when we gather with others, we bring the kingdom of God with us… the kingdom of God is near.
We can gather with strangers who are brothers and sisters in faith, as our congregation did this past weekend—and literally feel the reality of God’s kingdom.

Serving God is such a privilege, such a pleasure, such a joy. Each of us is called to serve, to go out, to physically be present with others. We might never say the words “The kingdom of God has come near” but the reality of the kingdom will be known by those we meet.

God’s kingdom will be known, will be felt, because God’s love flows into our lives and out again.

This is all such a blessing.
All we can say, knowing God’s blessings, is “thanks be to God.”