Know that the Kingdom of God Is Near

Posted on

In scripture, by the
Holy Spirit and through the very things God has created, God calls to us.  He calls us to understand that it is
love – which comes from our creator and which we are meant to share with each
other – that brings growth, gives strength and creates health and happiness in
us.  There is nothing in this whole
world more real than that basic truth. 
Nothing.   If we don’t come to live our lives
based on that truth, then we are simply disconnected from reality, and we will
never by ready.


1st
Sunday of Advent

December
2, 2012

Luke
21:25-36

Peder Stenslie

Visiting my parents
last weekend, I went for a couple long walks, first across the prairie, and
then back along the shores of Lake Sakakawea.  As I walked along the lake I became aware of an unusual but delightful sound.  It sounded a little
like wind chimes. 

A large number of
small plates of ice had formed on the edge of the water and were being gently
knocked together by the waves lapping against the shore.  It was very musical… and unique.  I didn’t know if I’d ever heard that
little nature song before.

And that made we
wonder why.  Why am I hearing this
music now when I’ve not heard it before? 
What does the cheery chiming signify… what does it mean?  What conditions have brought it
about? 

It was easy enough to
figure out… and not so terribly profound. 
It means the season of winter is deepening.  The water is beginning to freeze.  Soon the lake will be covered in ice, but right now there’s
just a thin band of plates along the shore. 

Not terribly
prophetic, I know.  We’ve all pretty
much figured out that winter is upon us. 
But it was satisfying for me, nonetheless, to know that God’s creation
is speaking to me… telling me what is coming in such a beautiful way.

That’s the way life
is.  Certainly, life is full of
surprises… some wonderful, some terrible; but in many ways, if we are
attentive, observant and thoughtful, we can see signs in the world around us
that tell us what’s coming, and we can make ourselves ready for it. 

That’s what Jesus’
parable of the fig tree tells us.  He says in today’s Gospel:  “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they
sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already
near.  So also, when you see these
things taking place, you know that the Kingdom of God is near.”

God’s creation is full
of wisdom.  It is full of signs
that help us make ourselves ready for what lies ahead.  A wise person is one who pays attention
to the signs imbedded in life and prepares oneself for what’s coming.

God speaks to us
through scripture, by his Holy Spirit and through the very things he has
created.  And everything that God
says to us through these different means tells us that right now is the time to
be making ourselves ready for what lies ahead.

On this first Sunday
in the season of Advent, we hear the call to be attentive… to get ready.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus says…”Be on
guard…”  “Be alert…”  Why is this important?  Because when the time comes, it will be
our task, as Jesus says, to “Stand up and raise our heads…” and “know that the
Kingdom of God is near.”

Those who have seen
the signs and are ready will find they have strength… they will find themselves
fit for what comes; while those who ignore the signs and are not ready will
find themselves caught in a trap. 
That is very much how life is.

In scripture, by the
Holy Spirit and through the very things God has created, God calls to us.  He calls us to understand that it is
love – which comes from our creator and which we are meant to share with each
other – that brings growth, gives strength and creates health and happiness in
us.  There is nothing in this whole
world more real than that basic truth. 
Nothing. 

Scripture tells us
that… so does the Spirit of God in our hearts… so does life all around us.  If we don’t come to live our lives
based on that truth, then we are simply disconnected from reality, and we will
never by ready.

Clearly and directly
scripture tells us that we are all called to be servants of life, giving our
hearts and minds and energy to those thoughts and actions and purposes that
bring light and goodness into our lives and into the lives of those around
us.  When we follow this call, we…
and all life that we are connected to… thrives.  When we follow this call, we ready ourselves for the Kingdom
of God.

You see… this is what
we need to know….  The Kingdom of
God is already here among us.  It
is here… but its presence is often not seen… because our eyes are foolishly
distracted by flashier things.  The
Kingdom of God is in our midst and it is active, but our minds often don’t
grasp it because we are foolishly preoccupied with other pursuits.  Our selfish and sinful human nature
tends to cloud our vision and thinking, making us value what’s not real and
ignore what is.

The season of Advent
is a “wake-up” call, telling us to clear our minds and hear the word of God…
open our eyes and see the signs that are right before us.  Rearrange our priorities, change our
ways and take seriously the call of God to be ready for the coming of the Kingdom
in Christ Jesus. 

And there’s more….  Even though the Kingdom is with us now…
in our midst… bearing the power of creation for all life; it will one day come
in all its fullness, laying full claim to all that is, leaving no power
standing that would negate it.

The coming of the
Kingdom of God is a process that has already begun, but is not yet complete…
and we are wrapped up in the whole thing. 
We are a part of the work God is doing with this world.  Our task is to make ourselves ready for
that. 

That’s what we are
reminded of on this first Sunday in Advent.  So we open our ears and hear the word of God this advent
season and we open our eyes to see signs in the world around us pointing to the
Kingdom of God.

Like those ice plates
clinking together along the shores of Lake Sakakawea….  Though they make sweet and beautiful
music, they are small and fragile and could easily be overlooked altogether if
one was not attentive and walking quietly. 

But they are in the
process of becoming something really incredible.  In time, those tiny plates will become a part of a massive
and powerful sheet of ice… 3 feet thick and covering the entire surface of the
lake, 500 square miles… strong enough to support the weight of a
semi-truck.  But it all starts with
a few fragile plates of ice clinging to the shore.

That’s the way of
God’s Kingdom.  It starts small in
us… with us simply being attentive… simply hearing the word of God… seeing
God’s Kingdom in small and beautiful things.  But then it begins to grow.  What God is doing in us is joined together with what God is
doing in others.  The Kingdom of
God grows as the life and love of God shine in us all together and builds, at
last, a future bright with joy and hope.

Amen.