I don’t know what you’re thinking about on a Monday morning, but today I got to thinking about how the lectionary scripture schedule that many pastors use for preaching is a blessing and a challenge. The blessing is that there are are lots of resources available because so many other people are also following the lectionary. But there are also scriptures that get skipped so that the lectionary can be completed in three years. For instance, last Sunday we talked about the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19, and next Sunday we will look at the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8, and in the process we will have skipped over Luke 17:20-37 in which Jesus talks about the coming of God’s kingdom. The Pharisees prompt this discussion with a question, and Jesus starts off his answer by saying, “’The coming of God’s kingdom is not something you can see just by watching for it carefully. People will not say, ‘Here it is.’ Or, ‘There it is.’ God’s kingdom is among you.’” (NIRV)
The variance between translations is worth noting. The NIV says “within you” and the ESV says “in the midst of you,” and each of these options gives a little different shade of meaning. But I like “among you” the best because it has echoes of Jesus’ teaching that “wherever two or more are gathered in my name, I am with them” (Matt. 18:20).
Jesus’ answer also reminds me of the verses we read from Jeremiah 29:1-7 last Sunday in which God was encouraging the Israelites to make the best of their situation, despite being in captivity in Babylon. If the kingdom of God is in our midst, already among us as followers of Jesus, then wherever we go and wherever we are, we are bearers of the kingdom, bearers of the good news of God’s love and grace.
So what does Jesus’ statement call us to do, then? Do we need to work to go more places? Or to be more aware of the message we bear in our current situations? How might that affect our interactions with people at work, at school, in stores and restaurants? As we work for the good of the kingdom, how can we help build that kingdom?
People are hungry to know God’s love. Let’s work together to feed them!