Pastor's Message - 2019 November Newsletter

 

Matthew 4:17-25  

17From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 18While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. 23And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

 

As we approach the end of the Church year, we will celebrate the reign of Christ the King. What does that mean in an age where such language has been relegated to a lost concept of the past? Some thoughts I have connect me to the passage above.

 

Jesus begins his public ministry by preaching. His message is simple and clear: Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It is here and now. What is this Kingdom of Heaven Jesus says is coming? If we were in the Gospel of Mark or Luke we would be talking about the Kingdom of God, that is, the place of Gods rule and reign. And it is not a place out there somewhere but right here. God is present; now. Matthew calls it the Kingdom of Heaven but he means the exact same thing. He does not mean to imply that heaven is a place out there. It is not a place you go to only when you die. Rather the Kingdom of Heaven is precisely where God is ruling here in this world, in the midst of this lifes unfolding ups and downs; twists and turns and all the drama. God reigns in the middle of the life we find ourselves in on this day. Jesus announcement is that the Kingdom of Heaven is here. It is not past but present. The future God has in store for you comes to you here and now in the midst of your daily life. When you are watching television, going golfing, sitting at home or mending your nets; Jesus is Lord and God is ruler of it all. The Kingdom of Heaven is not a place we go to but rather it comes to us. Jesus announces that his kingship, his rule and reign, is here. It is coming on us like a freight train.

 

Then Jesus calls disciples. He shows the power of being called to Gods kingdom. It makes no difference if we are talking about James or John; or you or me. You are reading this now as ordinary folk, in the middle of ordinary lives. You may be half asleep, daydreaming, lost in your own thoughts. And Jesus speaks to you, he comes in his word for you. Right now, he is pouring out his grace on you, showering you with his mercy. His love is touching you as he is establishing his reign in your life and calling you into the Kingdom of heaven, right now.

 

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand wherever Jesus is encountered. As people of faith, we know he has promised to be present with us, and we know where. In our worship Jesus comes for you, is present for you. Now is the time you are put to death and raised to new life in him. Here, now and forever.

 

In Jesus name I tell you that your sins are now forgiven. When people of faith gather this announcement of forgiveness is central to our coming together. You share in the meal where that very forgiveness is put in your hands and on your lips so you can be sure it is for you. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, says Jesus. Jesus reigns as king here. So, turn and believe in it. Come and receive it. See you in worship.

 

 

Pastor Randy

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