Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Snapshots of the Kingdom...

It's always tremendously encouraging to me when I hear someone's story, or have an encounter, and leave thinking to myself, "that's like the kingdom of God". These moments are what I call snapshots of the kingdom.

There I am in India, in 1993, holding hands with a woman who's asked me to pray for her because she so desperately wants the light of Christ to shine through her life, but is having a difficult time making it financially, as her shop has been blacklisted because of her faith. But there we are, praying together, holding hands, barriers down, looking to Jesus. Click: a snapshot of the kingdom.

There's my friend in Iraq, serving in the military as a nutritionist, and as she's making the rounds among surrendered Iraqi soldiers, one of them sees her cross and makes wild hand gestures which she eventually comes to understand has declaration that they share the same faith in Christ. He asks her to pray for him. They too, enemy combatants according to the kingdoms of this world, join hands and pray. Click: a snapshot of the kingdom.

I've dozens of snapshots, a veritable scrapbook in my heart, but my most recent favorite comes from my daughter's blog, where she writes about the multicultural assembly at the school where she teaches. You can catch the whole story here. The kingdom snapshot showed up in this part:

This is who we are, this Multicultural Assembly, an experiential collage, full of people eager to tell their stories. A few weeks ago, the journalists were considering the ways in which our school, never an athletic standout but with nationally ranked chess and rocket teams, was different from more “typical” high schools.

“You know, we don’t have one of those… you know, hierarchies here. The cheerleaders and the sports people, they’re not the most popular,” someone remarked.
And I love this about my school. The class presidents are in the school plays and the captain of the wrestling team is singing a Vietnamese pop duet on stage at the multicultural assembly.

We cheer loudest for the Special Olympics basketball team and listen to podcasts of our Rocketeers on an alternative talk radio show. Wherever I look, students honor the gifts they see in each other, celebrating successes and uniting in the face of loss.

Click: I see the nations joining hands in Isaiah 2. I see the dividing walls broken down in Ephesians 2. I see that my daughter loves these things, and I know that I'm proud of her because of it, proud that she has eyes to see these precious values, so easily discarded in our world.

The snapshots are everywhere, if we'll but look, really paying attention, with hopeful eyes. There's plenty that's wrong in this world, and in our own hearts too, and plenty even to argue about within our family of faith. But the main thing, after all, is nothing more than offering snapshots of the kingdom to others, and seeing other snapshots where they occur. If we fail here, we fail, no matter how righteous, or self-righteous, our rhetoric on any matter.

Thanks K... for sharing another snapshot. I'm proud of you.


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