Your kingdom come. God's kingdom comes indeed without our praying for it, but we ask in this prayer that it may come also to us. Amen.
God's kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us his Holy Spirit, so that by his grace we believe his holy Word and live a godly life on earth now and in heaven for ever.
Christmas is all about God’s kingdom coming! But unlike the hullabaloo from advertisers over the last couple of months, it seems as though God could have advertised his kingdom’s coming just a little bit better. In all the gifts one will get, does the gift of Jesus Christ even register on your wish list, let alone make it to the top of the list as number one gift this Christmas? Do you meditate on God’s kingdom coming or on the coming of many Christmas presents?
On the surface the lacklustre advertising of God’s coming kingdom might not seem to be right. After all, John the Baptist was sent before to broadcast Christ’s coming. And “Hark!” didn’t the herald angel sing — Glory to the newborn king — before the shepherds at Bethlehem? Also, what about the wise men rolling into Jerusalem, parading before Herod and the Sanhedrin; looking for the King of Israel, advertised by the biggest star the heavens had ever held?
However, as extraordinary as these events are, they were all suppressed in some way. In the temple, Archangel Gabriel told Zechariah he was to have a son to prepare the way of the Lord and bring many back to Christ. But on hearing the news Zechariah lost his voice! And then when John began his ministry, his appearance would have left something to be desired, as he came eating locusts dressed in camel’s hair calling for repentance. Not much of an advert!
Then the shepherds didn’t help the cause either! They saw the host of heavenly angels proclaim glory to Christ, and they did go and report the event. But they were smelly characters! They probably hadn’t bathed for a long time and would have smelt more like sheep than people. Besides, they were ritually unclean, and like Zechariah couldn’t proclaim the coming of God’s kingdom in the temple!
And the wise men, magi, astrologers, star gazing their way to the Christ-child! They went home a different way not telling Jerusalem having been warned to do so in a dream.
It seems that just as Christ is buried under the wrappings off cheap Chinese Christmas claptrap, God allowed the Christ-child to be hidden under the accidents and muck of the day when Jesus Christ first came into the world at Bethlehem.
It all seems just a little bit weak and substandard for the entry of a kingdom as holy and almighty as God’s. Added to this, Jesus had what seemed to be misfit parents; he was conceived out of wedlock, enough to raise the eyebrows of even the most compassionate person! There he was hidden out back of a highway house of sinners in a manger. That’s no way to advertise and announce the coming of God’s kingdom!
But God’s kingdom comes indeed without our praying for it, but we ask that it may come also to us. And it did, it does, and it continues to do so, even though it rarely — if ever — appears on our Christmas present wish list.
In fact our meditation on just about everything other than God and his gift reveals that, it’s not the coming of our Father’s kingdom that’s weak, but in its seemingly weak appearance, it reveals our hidden weaknesses and failure to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
Where we revel in the things that seem to come with authority and power, the kingdom of God seems to be anything but coming by the authority of God’s right hand and the power of his almighty arm. The herald angels have been drowned out by the harking of Harvey Norman and Super Amart’s 48 month interest free Christmas sales. The question has to be asked of ourselves: How am I contributing to the “cover-up” of the true Christmas gift?
God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us his Holy Spirit, so that by his grace we believe his holy Word and live a godly life on earth now and in heaven for ever.
God’s kingdom comes hidden in weakness, and as it does it reveals our weakness. The weakness of the manger and all the events that surrounded it herald our weakness. But it’s because of our weakness that Christmas came and Christ continues to come.
Our entry into the kingdom often fails to appear as a dazzling gift. But when God takes us in our weakness and gives us faith to see his gift, all the other Christmas gifts suddenly seem gaudy and trite compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord.
Saint Paul tells Titus what this gift is:
But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)
Hark! Our weakness and the seemingly poorly advertised advent of our new born King, is taken to the cross, where the gift of grace is unfolded for all, and the apparent weakness of God in the death of his Son, reveals the almighty arm and powerful right hand of God. Christ was lifted up, advertising to all our sin, and declaring to the devil and his entourage of evil that he is doomed to eternal death.
In the weakness of human flesh the Kingdom of God came at Bethlehem! It comes to us in our sinfulness as the gift of kindness, love, and mercy. The kingdom comes to you and Jesus justifies you by his grace; the grace veiled in the weakness of the manger, the curse of the cross, and in his resurrection into all righteousness.
And so as we hack our way through wads of wrapping paper this year, God calls us not to be led into temptation by our weakness. He calls us to see the gift of grace, and in it see the kingdom of heaven hidden in the manger and the cross. And in our hope of being heirs of the kingdom, we pray… that God would watch over us and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful self may not deceive us and draw us into false belief, despair, and other great and shameful sins. And we pray that even though we are so tempted we may still win the final victory. Amen.
So we pray: Our Holy Father in heaven; your kingdom comes; therefore, lead us not into temptation; but forgive us and feed us on the bread of your Word born at Bethlehem; for the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever, Amen.