Frederick Buechner has been one of my favorite authors since my seminary days. I considered using a quote from him last Sunday when we were thinking about the “kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew’s title, same as “kingdom of God”) but did not. I thought you might find it meaningful, whether you were there Sunday or not. Here’s the quote:
IF WE ONLY HAD eyes to see and ears to hear and wits to understand, we would know that the Kingdom of God in the sense of holiness, goodness, beauty is as close as breathing and is crying out to be born both within ourselves and within the world; we would know that the Kingdom of God is what we all of us hunger for above all other things even when we don’t know its name or realize that it’s what we’re starving to death for. The Kingdom of God is where our best dreams come from and our truest prayers. We glimpse it at those moments when we find ourselves being better than we are and wiser than we know. We catch sight of it when at some moment of crisis a strength seems to come to us that is greater than our own strength. The Kingdom of God is where we belong. It is home, and whether we realize it or not, I think we are all of us homesick for it. (Frederick Buechner, Originally published in The Clown in The Belfry)
The kingdom has not often been thought of as a Lenten emphasis. But I think it is appropriate for Lent. Bottom line, when we emphasize self-sacrifice, more attention to Scripture reading and prayer, sacrificial giving, etc., we are emphasizing our growth as followers of Christ. Buechner’s quote reminds me that I am part of something bigger and better than myself, and I will not find peace and purpose until I find that “home” we might also call the kingdom. Finding that “home” is certainly about our growth as Christians!
This Sunday we’ll consider another text that is unique to Matthew, the scene in the heavenly throne room found in Matthew 25:31-46. This is where find the oft-quoted statement, “When you do it to the least of these, you do it to me.” But there is much more to this story. We’ll try to dig deep and find the treasures and challenges of this familiar passage. Remember, the danger in the familiar is assuming we know what it means and says…I find in Scripture that there is always more.
This Sunday is also UMCOR Sunday (formerly One Great Hour of Sharing). The special offering pays the operating expenses of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the disaster and refugee arm of our denomination. Then, when we feel led to contribute to relief efforts for a particular disaster, 100% goes for direct aid. Another Lenten missions offering to consider is for our Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now) effort, to purchase the ingredients for the meals we will pack on April 2. Give to either or both as you feel led, and plan to be part of the meal packing on April 2!
See you Sunday on the Lenten Journey,