"Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom belonged to this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over…But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”
It must have felt like a party whenever Jesus passed through town. You could see him approach from a distance, his disciples walking alongside and dispersed through the crowd. Children and dogs played with rocks and sticks along the perimeter. Families brought sick or injured relatives, tentatively, hoping for that moment with Jesus when their loved one might be healed. It was an event when Jesus came to town, a gathering of the community for hospitality, sharing bread and fish and wine, no doubt figs and walnuts too. Stories about neighbors were exchanged, the men pondering events of the day, women resolving some family skirmish.
Christ is right here in the midst of things: in the thick of the quarrel, at the heart of the celebration. Jesus is in the kitchen making coffee and cookies with the staff for Sunday. Jesus is on the lawn making children and their parents laugh over not much of anything. Jesus is cleaning out the storeroom, scavenging for historic documents to enhance our 100th anniversary.
Jesus is in the parlor, receiving the sorrow of some recently experienced grief. Jesus is in the parking lot, touching the angry, the hurt, the disappointed. Jesus is in the sanctuary, reading scripture and proclaiming the good news that the kingdom of God is at hand.
This week Jesus was all over our great nation, as ordinary people celebrated the fourth of July. In Boston, the fife and drum parade of early Americana reminded bystanders of where it all began, and the sacrifices made to bring us from there to here. In Chicago’s Millennium Park, concert goers and tourists waved flags and munched on burgers and burritos from kiosks that line the mall.
Out west at the Greeley Stampede, the biggest fourth of July rodeo in the country, ranchers and city folks thrilled at the cowboy athleticism of barrel racers and bull-riders. Jesus was there in the stands in his western boots, listening to stories as the popcorn got passed down the line. Whenever and wherever we come together, whether to embrace the birthday of our nation, or honor the passing of a beloved friend, Jesus is with us. This is God’s great, good news.
Prayer: Holy One, we thank you for the joys of our faith community. How precious is your gift of friends in faith. Be with us in our time together. And may we save a seat at every table for Jesus, with gratitude for every good gift given, through him. Amen
God’s grace, mercy and peace,
Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland Senior Minister, The Community Church of Vero Beach, Florida