August 25, 2019

Proper 16     

Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71: 1-6; Hebrews 12: 18-29, Luke 13:10-17

The Rev. James M.L. Grace

In the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  AMEN

            “Therefore since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire.”  Those words from the letter to the Hebrews travel a long distance to meet us here in church this morning. 

            Every Christian who is humble before God receives a kingdom which cannot be shaken, so the author of Hebrews writes.  What an astounding claim.  I wonder how many of you who consider yourselves Christian would feel today that you are the inheritor of a kingdom which knows no limits.

            When my mother died twelve years ago, she left behind for my siblings and I some land out in the hill country.  It is far cry from a “kingdom which cannot be shaken,” but it is beautiful.  But with the bequest of that land comes a lot of responsibility that I don’t really want. 

            So my siblings and I have put it on the market to sell.  Real estate tends to move slowly in the country, and we will see if anyone is interested in purchasing it.  I hope so. 

            The things which we inherit, be they material possessions, land, or otherwise, can become problematic for us.  We might not be interested in having such things.  The things we inherit might add more complication to our lives which are already complicated enough.

            But it is not so with the kingdom of God. Whether we feel we are worthy or not, whether we feel we deserve it or not, all Christians are inheritors of this kingdom. 

            And like the land which I inherited, the kingdom of God comes with responsibility, but not the kind of responsibility one must have to take care of earthly things.  The responsibility as an inheritor of the kingdom of God is simple: it is that we have faith, and that we live with humility.

            In the midst of a world that is changing so fast, in a world many of us might not understand now, God offers us what God has always offered since the beginning of time – an unchanging, abiding, presence – a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

            The kingdom of God is not a place or a thing – it is the presence of God that is living and active in our lives.  Neither is the kingdom of God something only available to deceased faithful Christians, a “sweet bye and bye” a “Heavenly reward” for those who live faithfully.  The kingdom of God is the real, tangible, visceral presence of Jesus Christ in our lives that establishes for us an unshakable foundation.

            The unshakeable kingdom reveals itself in the face of a woman or man that in spite of the challenges they face day in and day out, their face shows not pain, not fatigue, not sorrow.  Their face shows joy and gratitude.  Whenever I meet a person demonstrating authentic gratitude, I know I am near to this unshakable kingdom. 

            As inheritors of this kingdom, we are called to step out in faith, to follow God with humility, trusting God as God leads us into new and uncomfortable places.  There is no kingdom greater than the unshakeable one, no presence stronger than the love of Christ, which redeems everything, and covers all wounds, all sin, all evil. 

            That is the power of God which is freely given to us, which we inherit.  The power of Christ’s love is stronger than any political party, any agenda, or any army or military force.  It is Christ’s love which is unshakeable, freely given to all who humble themselves to receive it. 

It is the greatest inheritance.  And it is already given to you, if you will just receive it.  AMEN.