Thursday, May 11, 2006

Reminders of God's Kingdom

Release time again; only a few more to go.

Luke 21:25-31

25 "There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

29 Then Jesus told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near."

In this passage from Luke's Gospel, Jesus is speaking to us about God's Kingdom of love and justice here on earth. Sometimes we refer to God's rule as the Kingdom of Heaven or the Reign of God. All those phrases mean God is in charge.

Jesus talks about signs in the sky and on earth. But first, where do we find signs and what are signs for? Some examples include street signs telling us where we are, house numbers or the name on a store. Logos that identify and represent products are a kind of sign, too. Doctors and nurses read vital signs to learn about the health of their patients. Jesus' talks about signs to remind us that he is King of all creation and Lord of the whole universe. Jesus also mentions these signs to remind us that, because he loves us, God prepares us for and lets us know something about everything he does.

God shows signs to us in our world and in other people's lives. Sometimes people have needs we can help take care of. God wants us to be very careful and watchful as we live among others. Very often we can be an important part of making's God's Kingdom come alive in another person's life. What are some ways you've been able to see and help with other people's needs?

Jesus says sometimes people are afraid, especially when the weather seems out of control or the sun and stars are doing strange things. In Jesus' life and words we learn that because we are loved, we don't ever have to be afraid.

In verse 31 Jesus calls himself "Son of Man." Jesus often uses this name for himself. Son of Man reminds us that Jesus, God's Son, became a human person like us. Son of Man reminds us it is possible for us to live our lives the way Jesus lived his life because Jesus was human.

Jesus told a parable about a fig tree. A parable is a kind of lesson that uses images and signs. Around here we just don't see such trees. However, it was important for Jesus' followers to hear about the fig tree, because the fig tree was the sign or symbol of their country. The fig tree reminded them that God's plan for them included life on earth in a land that would take care of their needs for food, shelter, and clothing. This parable also reminds us that God takes care of our needs for housing, food, and clothing.

This parable is about Redemption or Salvation or Kingdom of God or Reign of God or Rule of God. These words are very close in meaning. God's Reign and Salvation are what we learn about as we read the Bible and as we live our lives according to God's rule of love. The Kingdom of Heaven is about everyone's life and all creation being complete, healthy and whole. Jesus shows us and tells us all of us can have salvation and God's Kingdom, or rule. Jesus tells us and shows us that Wholeness and Redemption belong not only to people, but to every part of God's creation.

Besides the types of signs we've already read about and talked about, the church is an important sign of the presence of God in the world. That means we, who are part of the church, are signs or symbols of God's presence to everyone we meet.

God came to us in Jesus as the Human One, or Son of Man, as a sign of the Kingdom of God. God calls us to be signs of the Reign of Heaven or Rule of God right where we are. In the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ helps us follow his way in showing Redemption and Salvation to the world.

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