A continuous, ceaseless advent, inexhaustible and unrelenting--
So may your kingdom be, O Lord.

Your kingdom come. 
                                        Matthew 6:10 NKJV

Our Father in heaven,
        thy name be revered,
        thy Reign begin,
        thy will be done
                on earth as in heaven!

Give us to-day our bread for the morrow,
        and forgive us our debts
                as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors,
        and lead us not into temptation
                but deliver us from evil.
                                          --translation by James Moffatt


Let me not only pray "Thy kingdom come,"
but do whatever one man can
to let thy kingdom come through me.
                                          --Walter Bowie


May all mankind, receiving thee, O Christ,
for their king, truly believing in thy name,
be filled with righteousness, peace and joy,
with holiness and happiness;
till they are removed hence into thy kingdom of glory,
to reign with thee for ever and ever.
                                          --John Wesley

                              Thy Kingdom Come

Prayer is a journey from self to God, and from earth to the glories
of heaven. It's also a two-way street. Prayer opens the door to the
possibility of God's kingdom coming among us. Not once or twice,
but whenever by faith we hold the door open. The four-week period
prior to Christmas day is called the season of Advent. Yet the coming
of the kingdom of heaven is a perpetual advent. The Immanuel of the
yuletide carol means "God with us," a truth that is just as relevant
today and any day as it was on that silent night so long ago.

The kingdom of heaven did not come by guns and violence, but in the
form of a humble baby in a stable manger. Jesus compared God's
kingdom to a seed in the field or yeast in bread dough. Not invading
from without, but expanding from within. Sometimes flourishing,
sometimes stunted; it all depends on growing conditions. Not a physical
kingdom, but of the spirit. It leaps across every human boundary, and
like the wind, is seen only in it effects.

There's an interesting sequence to the Lord's Prayer. After the emphasis
on the need for the hallowing of God's name, we ask that Name to come
and hallow the ground on which we stand! Amid the disrespect and
sinfulness of our private and public lives, amid the chaos and fearful
uncertainties that surround us daily, we long for the harmony and
goodwill of heaven. So we pray that the glorious light of God's kingdom
will blaze its way into the darkness of our world and change our discord
into peace, at home, in the workplace and spread outward into business,
politics and onto the international scene.

What words can we use to understand this kingdom? We could start
with the grace and forgiveness of our God who is always willing to begin
anew with us and thereby taught us to do the same in our relationships.
We could think in terms of humility, goodwill toward all mankind, courage,
faith, hope, gratitude, compassion, child-like trust in the providence of
our loving heavenly Father, meekness, mercy, personal integrity,
self-sacrifice and all those other qualities embodied in Jesus and his
teachings. The apostle Paul composed a short list he called the fruit
of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
tolerance and self-control.

Depending on your life experiences, the words in the above paragraph
may sound real and familiar to you, or they may seem as foreign as
an impossible dream. But here's the tricky part. One word is always
associated with the coming of the kingdom--CHANGE! It's a word we
love for others, but hate for ourselves. Both John the Baptist and Jesus
proclaimed the same message: "Change your hearts and lives because
the kingdom of heaven is near." Most translations of the Bible call it
repentance. It means to turn around and change directions, to lift our
eyes from self and turn toward our Father in heaven.

Each of us, individually, must stop doing wrong things and turn from
our destructive ways. It's not my brother, nor my sister, but it's me,
O Lord, standing in the need of grace. Before I confess the sins of
others and preach to them, I must confess my own sins. Through
repentance I bend my knees and bow to the authority and supremacy
of God's higher authority, and acknowledge that God's way works better
than mine. "Thy kingdom come" means, "Father, rule in my life."

What is right for us individually, is right for us collectively also. Families,
municipal communities and communities of faith, governments, interest
groups, organizations great and small--Thy kingdom come, in and
through us all. Like the seed in the field, and the leaven in the dough,
so the kingdom of heaven permeates throughout and grows to produce
much fruit. Wherever God reigns, there is compassion, much sharing,
and joy. Everything that is not of God, ends.

Just as God has prepared a way for us to come to him, so we, if we
choose to do so, can prepare a way for God to come to us. The Old
Testament prophet, Isaiah, used the image of preparing a highway for
our God. Build it with joy and anticipation; and the kingdom of heaven
will come to you, and through you, to the world.


Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.


Icebreaker: State one area of your life where your word is,
                   or you wish it were, the law.


What images of kings and kingdoms do you have?
            How is the kingdom of heaven different from kingdoms in this world?
            By what means does God's kingdom advance or decline?


In "the land of the free and the home of the brave", we prefer independence
and democracy. We decide our own fate, make our own rules and do our
own thing.
            How does our penchant for self-rule influence our thinking about the
                        term, "the kingdom of heaven"?
            State one good reason why we should surrender our desires to
                        God's law of peace and goodwill for all?
            Do you submit to God's way in some areas, but retain control of others?


There's a song (written by Geo Matteson) in the Methodist Hymnal which reads:
            "Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free.
            Force me to render up my sword, and I shall conqueror be.
            I sink in life's alarms when by myself I stand;
            Imprison me within thine arms, and strong shall be my hand."
Three more verses express similar paradoxes.
            What does the message of this song say to you, and about you?


Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686. He spoke of the kingdom of God
on earth as the kingdom of grace, and the future promise of heaven as the
kingdom of glory. He wrote, "At Athens there were two temples, a temple
of virtue and a temple of honor; and there was no going into the temple of
honor, but through the temple of virtue; so the kingdoms of grace and glory
are so closely joined together, that we cannot go into the kingdom of glory
but through the kingdom of grace."
            What do these thoughts add to our prayer, "Thy kingdom come."?
            If we cannot learn to live in peace on earth, is it reasonable to expect
                        we will live together peacefully in heaven?
Ponder/React to this--Jesus told us to change now, not wait till we get to heaven.


The purpose of Jesus' ministry on earth was to bring on the reign of God.
            How did Jesus go about doing this?
When Jesus departed, he commanded his disciples to continue his work.
            What gifts and abilities has God given you to use in bringing the light
                        and life of God's kingdom into your everyday routines?
            How do you contribute to this goal locally, nationally or internationally?


What can you do to prepare a road for God to come and rule among us?

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