“…how constant, how divine,
this song of ours will rise…”
-David Crowder’s “O Praise Him”
The Anglican church I attend will be celebrating one-hundred and fifty years of Kingdom Life in 2018. Preparations are being made by the rectors and vestry to tell the narrative of this faith community. A cloud of witnesses will oversee the events.
Reflecting on the Kingdom of God several years ago I came to the understanding, with the help of the writings of Pauline Scholar N.T. Wright, that the Kingdom of God on earth is here and now. The Kingdom was inaugurated by Jesus when he walked this earth. Why mention this?
As I walk around on Resurrection ground I am reminded that I walk on the same earth as all the saints from all nations who have gone on before me. Their lives and their faith in God’s covenant faithfulness have made it possible for me to have faith in 2016. The organism of their faith now lives in me.
Now, I could consider myself an Enlightened person who needs nothing and no one but reason and self but then I would shrink myself into a private rather than a public form of consciousness – a community of one, isolated and where the sacred is eschewed and nihilism offers nothing. Rather, I chose this continuum of faith and have identified myself with it. This continuum has, in turn, given me an identity through baptism. I placed myself in the waters of the Kingdom Continuum.
Our faith community’s coming together to participate in ages old ritual is with the knowledge that we are under judgement. We must recite what we know to be true about God and about ourselves.
We come together in the liturgy. The Celebrant starts…
“Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit…Almighty God, unto all hearts are open…Hear what the Lord Jesus Christ said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Our Kingdom community, in worship of the One True God, recites The Gloria. Together we hear sacred texts read. Together we recite the ancient Nicene Creed. Together we participate in the Prayers of the People. Together we kneel accepting judgement. Together we confess – say the same thing about our sin as God does – and then hear the words of absolution. We rise to extend God’s Kingdom peace through a handshake or an embrace of the other.
The Eucharist – the Feast of Thanksgiving – is a rite commanded by The One who said “Do this…” and “I’m telling you a solemn truth. If you don’t eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. Anyone who feasts upon my flesh and drinks my blood has the life of God’s coming age, and I will raise them up on the last day. My flesh is true drink and my blood true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I remain in him. Just as the living father sent me, and I live because of the father, so the one who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven; it isn’t like bread which the ancestors ate, and died. The one who eats this bread will share the life of God’s new age.” The Word became flesh and the Kingdom Continuum becomes sustainable.
We come together knowing that we stand under judgement but also knowing that there is One of us whose sacrificial death pronounces us restored. This inversion, our Lord’s sacrifice into sacrament, is a gift that reminds us that we are redeemed: from fallen to restored. The judgement of many has been answered by the One Death. And like a Greek tragedy, this our tragedy is reenacted over and over in the hearts and souls and minds of the one-hundred and fifty-year-old faith community that is built on Resurrection ground.