Ash Wednesday: on being an Embassy of God’s Kingdom
The news is full of the ways the church fails in our pursuit of being the Kingdom of God on earth. And individually we all have stories of a church falling short of its purpose, and we have even more stories of individuals failing.
What do we need to do in order to be an Embassy of God’s Kingdom?
How do we shape ourselves as a people who represent God in the world?
How do we tell people what they are entering when they enter this Embassy?
How do we communicate what we are doing here and who we are?
There is reality to God’s Creation that Jesus talks about as the Kingdom of God. It is a truth that is eternally present over and against the world that we see. It is not true instead of but also. That reality has its own rule, law, and habits of being.
The church is not the Kingdom of God. The institution of the church is the necessary functioning of the community of God in the world of Pontius Pilate and pilates. The church is how we make the intentions of the community real in a world where we live under governments and with people who are not always formed as God’s people.
The church is an outpost of the Kingdom of God in the world of Pilate and pilates though. We seek to live in a reality in which the loving Abba of the Heavens is our Lord and ruler, where love is our rule and way, and where even our enemies are loved. This reality has its own rule, law, and habits.
But we are not trained by our daily lives to live in God’s kingdom. We are trained to live in the world as it is, so we must be formed to live in God’s ways and rules and habits.
Living this way as a community means that we hold out and protect a corner of creation as a base from which we can go out into the world as God’s representatives bearing his image in our everyday lives. This base is our church. Our church is an embassy of God, and we are God’s ambassadors.
And sometimes we fail. All the time we fall short.
In Lent, we recommit to our vocation to be God’s embassy as a church and God’s ambassadors as people. We ask for forgiveness on Ash Wednesday in extravagant ways as we take on ashes as a sign of our mortality and repent.
We then spend the season making small changes to move closer to our purpose in Christ. Fasting and giving up things only make sense if they make us better disciples of Jesus, ambassadors of God, temples of the Holy Spirit.
Join us for a good beginning on 6 March, 2019 at one of our services, as we repent in the great Litany, take on our mortality, and remember that we stand short when we stand in the light of so great a love, so great a calling, so great a God.
Let us make God’s love known as Christ is known to us, in the breaking of the bread.