Pastor’s Post: Thy Kingdom Come?
Dear friends in Christ,
Many, if not most of us pray the Lord’s Prayer every day. That means we probably say the words “Thy Kingdom come” hundreds of a times every year. But when we pray these words what are we really asking for? What does that really mean? How would we know when our prayer is answered?
In the Small Catechism Martin Luther gives this explanation, and makes it clear I think that the Kingdom of God is not a place but a radical new condition of human existence when sin, death and the devil are at last cast out. Luther wrote, “The kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer, of itself, but in this petition we pray that it may come also unto us.”
In the Scriptures. Jesus’ mission is to “…proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God…” (Luke 4:43). The Kingdom of God is both present in Jesus, and a promised future He proclaims. So the Kingdom of God is both present and future. Later when Jesus was asked about the coming kingdom of God He said, “The kingdom of God is among you.” (Luke 17:21).
Thus at the core of the God’s mission in Jesus is the message about the in-breaking of the kingdom of God in what He says and does; all this is a “foretaste” of the kingdom come in its fullness. So when we pray “thy kingdom come” we are confessing two kinds of hopes. First the hope that we will share in the final triumph of God’s good and gracious will over all that is broken. As Luther said, “We pray that it may come also unto us.” But we are also confessing that hope that we may be, like Jesus, part of the in breaking of the kingdom of God now, in our lives, as Jesus was in His earthly life.
This Sunday in the Gospel from Luke 4:31-40 we read of many miracles of healing and the casting out of demons. Some people might see these accounts as nice stories about what Jesus did without being of much relevance to us because in our world, in our day sin, death, and the devil always seem to get the upper hand.
But faith in Jesus means that we can also be signs of the kingdom coming in our lives. Roman Catholic writer Maureen Ramsey put it well when she wrote that the words “Thy kingdom come,” confront Christians in two ways. The kingdom as having “dual timing” – already here but not yet fully present.
As Christ’s followers today we can participate by faith in the growth of God’s kingdom now. In word and deed, we are signs of God’s kingdom. We forgive and reconcile, even when it is uncomfortable. We heal by taking time and effort to be present to be with those who are ill physically, emotionally, or spiritually, and pray with them for God’s healing power and presence according to His will. We respect, care, and advocate for the poor and powerless.
When we pray “thy kingdom come,” we are praying for the future triumphant reign of God. But we are also asking to be forgiving, healing people now. And we pray to be changed in those areas where God does not reign in our lives. In what ways do you participate in bringing forth the kingdom in your family, at work, in our church, and in other areas of your life?
Pastor Joe Hughes