LETTER FROM THE VICAR
Our readings in church, at the moment, are exploring the Kingdom of God, as we reflect on Jesus building up his ministry around his disciples and going out on preaching tours, healing the sick and telling everybody of God's love for them. At the end of the decade of evangelism (the 1990s) the definition of 'Mission' proposed by the archbishop's mission initiative was, "Revealing God's love for the world." That seems to be what Jesus was doing at the start of his earthly ministry. This also revealed what the Kingdom of God was going to be like. The world, where Jesus would be its ruler when He returned in Glory at the end of time.
The Sermon on the Mount comes from this period of Jesus' ministry, where He speaks in parables. The parable of the mustard seed that grows into the enormous bush is one of many we have heard recently. The Kingdom of God starts small but grows to be massive, is one way of reading that. It seems to be so tiny as to be lost and irrelevant at the start, but by the finish it overshadows everything and dominates the landscape. Not in a threatening way, but such that the birds of the air can find a home in it and it can give shade from the fierce heat of the daytime. It is a shelter, a place of safety and home.
The Kingdom of God reveals God's love for the world because it is His plan that the world will be ruled by Him, in the fullness of time, and be subject to His just and peaceable rule. Jesus comes to tell people not only that things are going to be wonderful in the future, even if it is hard to see it now, but to show them that the Kingdom begins with Him. Jesus shows us how to live in the Kingdom through His kindness, generosity, compassion, obedience, determination and self-sacrifice. His message is not about 'the Kingdom that lies along way ahead so there is not much point in thinking about it now because it will not bother us'. Jesus tries to show us that the Kingdom can be partly enjoyed right now. I have been telling the children in the schools the story of Jesus and the 5 loaves and 2 fish. Jesus demonstrates how there is enough for everybody, if we have compassion and help each other by sharing the abundance that God gives us.
We may not live fully in the Kingdom yet, but we can live as if we did and enjoy many of the delights of the Kingdom, simply by sharing and looking after each other. There is enough money in the world and enough food for everybody, but only if we share it out more equally. If we do that then the world will start to look like the Kingdom of God will do. At the end of the week when The Aquarius was turned away, repeatedly, from ports in the Mediterranean and its cargo of men, women and children ran low on food and water, thank God that the Spanish government demonstrated the values of the Kingdom by giving them a place to go.
When we are selfish, when we deny our humanity and deny God by rejecting the care of those in abject need, we are very far from the Kingdom of God. But when we share our abundance and when we are generous and welcome others, then the Kingdom of God draws near. It cannot be stopped. That is the message of the Gospels. Jesus helps disciples "to take the next step on their journey of faith" by demonstrating how to go about living and building the Kingdom of God. And that was the definition of Evangelism that came out of the 1990s.
May we go out in Mission and be Evangelists, as we live out the Kingdom values in our daily lives and encourage others to join us.