From the Pastor

A Message From Pastor Miranda Denler

Have you noticed that conversation has already turned toward Christmas? None of us know what life will look like in 5 months, but at the same time, we’re all ready to look forward to something.

I’ve had multiple conversations with people about the lack of something to look forward to being the worst part of this whole experience. I know many of you lost opportunities to celebrate with your family and friends on multiple occasions. Rob and I have been planning a big trip to Japan since we got married. Luckily, we didn’t buy the tickets before the pandemic hit! Just recently I was asked what I’m looking forward to and I couldn’t come up with a single thing. While daily life has continued, there hasn’t been the same flow of life we are used to. Over time, this wears on our mental health. So, I think because Christmas day won’t change even if how we celebrate does, we’ve set Christmas in our sights as the thing to look forward to. Well, that is, if you’re a winter person. I’ve also noticed an uptick in longing for Fall on Facebook. We don’t know when life will return to “normal” and so we keep looking for anything good to hang our hat on.

Welcome to the normal Christian experience! We’re not used to this kind of waiting, and yet, we should be. While the world is waiting for the end of the pandemic, we, as Christians, are waiting for something even better than “normal” life. We are waiting for the Kingdom of God! Scripture is full of references to the coming Kingdom of God. You may have noticed as we entered the month of July we started reading through the book of Matthew. Throughout the rest of Summer and Fall we will continue to read the teachings and stories of Jesus from the perspective of Matthew. Most of these texts look forward to the Kingdom of God. Already, we’ve read several parables about what the Kingdom of God looks like and how we will enter it (Matthew 13). As we read through other parts of Matthew, we will see Jesus continually points to the Kingdom of God as both the high ideal and the future we all look forward to.

The main message we will find is that the Kingdom of God is both a present and future reality. Jesus doesn’t come with a message of a better future and leave those he teaches in their current reality.

The text for the first Sunday of August is a perfect example of that, Matthew 14:13-21. Jesus teaches about the kingdom and when he tries to withdraws to be alone, he’s surrounded by those who need healing. Instead of having his disciples send them away, Jesus spends the day healing all those who have come and then feeds them with what little they can find among them. The miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is lost to our ears if we’re focused instead on the Kingdom Jesus taught would come in the future. For Jesus, it was more than a future reality; the Kingdom could be brought into the present with compassion, healing, and food.

So, we’re still stuck in this waiting period. None of us know what will happen next with the pandemic. Yet, as followers of Christ, we know what comes next for all of creation. The Kingdom of God is coming into being! As much as it’s a future reality, one that we all look forward to, one free of pandemics, racism, and injustice, it’s also a future reality that Jesus teaches us to do something about now. We can certainly look forward to the future Kingdom, but we shouldn’t sit on our couches twiddling our thumbs waiting for it. Instead, we should be providing healing and food for those who need it most. For Jesus, waiting is active, not passive.

What are you doing in your waiting to bring the Kingdom into the present? Are you checking on your neighbors regularly? Are you sending donations to those who need it most? Are you opening up about your faith to your family? There is something God has placed on you heart during this time of waiting to accomplish for the Kingdom. You have permission to do it! Safely, of course, but do it! The Kingdom of God is now even as we look forward to the coming of the future Kingdom of God. Go, in the name of the Kingdom, physically, mentally, spiritually, and live in the Kingdom of God!

In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Miranda