Preaching the Kingdom of God

Jim Gleason 2

 

Preaching the Kingdom of God

“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

    What was Jesus preaching? What kind of Kingdom? Father Richard Rhor talks of how Jesus stayed in the center, never making judgments, and how in the center we can meet people in  all their differences, and find common ground. He talks of meeting at the center in love of our neighbor.

    The Kingdom as Jesus views it is  from the center of love: “Love the Lord your God with all of your soul, your mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself.”

    Bishop Reuben Job summed up how he saw the gospel as the United Methodist Church began tearing itself a part:

“Do No Harm, Do Good, And stay in love with God!”

   

I was given two books for Christmas, by  two sets of friends: “The Faith of Donald Trump” and Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic.” 

    I will read both, I will treasure them as coming from two couples who have loved us and our work through the years. I will listen and ponder the message of each book without judgment. For us  that is what Jesus meant when he said, “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” To love, to respect, each person for who they are, and not to judge. 

    Saturday we are having a memorial service for Jim Gleason at 2:00 p.m. Jim was a gentleman who struggled with addiction and poverty the majority of his life, and in that struggle provided an example that we should not bring our human judgment on others. His life like all of our lives was a mixture, and at its center was the goodness in which he provided and cared for those around him, demonstrating the example of “loving our neighbor”:

Memorial Meditation for Jim Gleason

March 8, 1972-December 11, 2019

2:00 p.m.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

Saturday, January 11, 2020

God of Rainbow and Fiery Pillar

Genesis 9:8-17 English Standard Version (ESV)

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

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    Julian Rush prays: “:You are a wild and crazy God, you see us and love us for who we are. .God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar we your people, ours the journey now and ever, now and ever, now and ever more.”

    It is this God that  holds us in his hands  today, the God who is wild, and crazy, and loves us for who we are. There was a survey on Facebook which  ask us to choose from such items as ” have you wrecked a car, driven drunk, and others much worse,” followed by the  giving of  points for each answer, up to 250 points.

    Most people scored in the low hundreds, I scored 210. Someone wrote to me and said “you are a bad boy,” and I laughed for I was and am a  “bad boy”. You see we are all “bad boys and girls,” God knows and , being wild himself loves us intensely.

    God created human beings in order to have fellowship, and communion; He loved his creation, but humans, being humans, found other ways of behaving, and did many evil things to one another and ignored God.

    So in her anger, God flooded the earth, and gave Noah the mission of saving a pair of each creature on earth, in order to begin again.

    Soon after the flood subsided, and Noah had unloaded the  ark, God realized that in creating humanity, a choice was given to them, to choose evil and good, which was the beauty of his creation. She also realized that being humans we would choose evil, more than good, and so God made this promise:  “I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”

    That promise was  to remind God  not to destroy the earth but to be patient, and through the years as  humanity kept  sinning God  brought Jesus into the world, and again humanity chose evil,  Jesus was crucified, but this time in the resurrection God made the ultimate promise–she will love us regardless, through his grace we find hope and ultimate wholeness. We will not be abandoned, but promised eternity.

    This “wild and crazy God, this God of the rainbow and pillar,” in his own wildness, understands the wildness we have inherited from her, and surrounds us with the rainbow of love, for God sees both the good and the evil in creation  and bends humanity  to the good, ever so slowly.     We make mistakes that often cripple , hurt, and destroy ourselves and  others, but God continues to work and mold each one of us, and as we move into eternity, bringing wholeness and good to all creation.

    One of my seminary professors talked of how at the end of time, God would bring us together in a great therapy session, in order to heal our scars, bringing us into wholeness. Creation becomes new and whole. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The arch moving towards good  bends ever so slowly,” and we are bending ever so slowly  on our journeys. Let us be patient with one another.

    Jim’s journey is complete in this earthly realm, but in eternity he will continue to grow, mature, and become whole, as we will.

    Jim was wild, and crazy, and in that wildness and craziness showed love to many people, gave of his money when he had little, cared for friends, and so give thanks for Jim’s life, and remember the:

“God of rainbow, fiery pillar,

leading where the eagle’s soar

we your people, ours the journey now and ever,

now and ever, now and evermore.” Amen.

——————————————————–

Father River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

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