Wednesday, February 25
Charlotte McFarlin Connah
As a young girl, I was captivated by the idea of "kingdom." I read every fairy tale I could and was mesmerized by the notion of a far-away land ruled by a prince and everyone lived happily ever after. In Sunday School, I listened intently to lessons on the Kingdom of Heaven where the Prince of Peace reigned, and so began my concept of an eternal Heaven where I hope to awake one day.
However, in my adult years, I began to wrestle with Jesus' saying, "The kingdom of God is within you," (Luke 17:21). I questioned how to fully achieve that, but I had not yet grappled with the other kingdom, the earthly kingdom. It was during a trip to the Holy Land that my whole world was rocked. Visiting the West Bank and the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem brought me face to face with the Lord's Prayer, which I'd recited all my life, all too quickly and without pause, and consequently missed the core of Jesus' teaching… "Thy kingdom come on earth… as it is in Heaven." Heaven is the model, not just the final prize saved for last. Sitting on the shore of Galilee in that same place where Jesus uttered, "The kingdom of God is at hand." (Matthew 4:17), I listened as the Sermon on the Mount was read and realized that Jesus delivered the blueprint in the Beatitudes on how to achieve his kingdom on earth and within.
The goal of every Christian is to fully love God, self, and neighbor. So I must ask WHO is my neighbor? Every person in every place on earth without regard to gender, age, race, orientation, political persuasion, or faith tradition has been made by God, in his image, and is my neighbor. How then do I look upon persons and see the image of God? What must I do? What must I sacrifice as I prepare for Easter during this season of Lent? It requires more than not consuming cornbread and chocolate for 40 days! I must give up judgment, prejudice, my ego… and how, knowing that with every day comes a new challenge? I start with the Lord's Prayer and I pause, sitting in silent, awaiting an answer...
My Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come; your will be done… on earth… (Dear God, help me this day to build your kingdom in this place.) Amen