He Reigns! This is clearly the message of the last Sunday of the church year that we observe today. Or is it? Does he reign now? How about here, today in the United States? Or in Europe, or Asia, or the Middle East … or anywhere else in the world?
We are told by Daniel in the verses just before we read here this morning that he saw a vision of four beasts – beasts that are generally thought to be representations of great countries or empires that were at the time or to come. Daniel says that one beast was killed and destroyed – but that the other three were left – their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.
In the church we talk about the existence of two kingdoms – the kingdom of the left … which would be the kingdoms of this world, authority on earth, laws that we must obey as citizens of an earthly kingdom or country, rules that all people need to follow for there to be good order – paying our taxes, no littering, crossing the street at cross-walks, obey the speed limit. And then there is the kingdom of the right … the things that are sacred, where the authority of God is in control – matters that go beyond the secular – rules that we need to follow even if the government says they don’t care.
No where in these lessons does it say all the earthly rulers are obsolete, you’re free to only follow the laws that your heart inspired by God tells you to. No, we still live in a world ruled by brokenness for now. We must live in this world and still manage to do the mission given to us – to still proclaim the message of the Gospel to all the world. But in doing that – why box ourselves in? What are the rules that we follow, or what are the boxes or walls that get in our way of doing mission? Any ideas?
How about how we think about mission – what is it? What has to happen for there to be mission? Do we need to go to Africa, or Asia, or South America? Well, we could … but is anyone here going to any of these places? I may, on business – but not likely on an intentional mission trip anytime soon. Some people might be though – Jim went to Mississippi with the Buchs and the Jerams earlier this year to help Katrina victims. They helped out hands-on – others helped out financially. Some of us donated frequent flyer miles to get people who had the time to go get there. I recently talked with the pastor of the church in Gulf Shores Alabama where we sent the packages of goods to be distributed to folks down there. He was very sorry to hear of the demise of Peace, but still expressed his thanks for the good works of the congregation in supporting the mission to help out the Gulf Coast. We can do this kind of mission. Perhaps we are able to go on a mission trip of this sort – but we can certainly support mission of this type even in a small way. Our offerings given in this place have little to support right now. We’ve got some minor expenses in copying – but that’s about it. We can and should pay something to Hope for the generous use of this building – especially as it starts to get cold and the cost of heating the place starts to rise, we can pay something to the LCMC for its administration, and we can look for where we might use the balance to do real mission.
Where could we – yes US, this little group here – go on a mission trip and what could be our purpose? We could go down the road and spend some time singing Christmas carols to the folks at a nursing home. Each one of the souls in the nursing home has as much value to God as the souls in the Amazon rain forest, or on the Mississippi coastline.
And perhaps we are doing mission – where we work and go to school. By leading a life to the best of our flawed ability, encouraging others by our example to do the right things in spite of pressures to do things the way the world would have us do them.
When Jesus was talking with Pilate he did not say what would be expedient and get him off the hook – he told the truth – the one thing that was sure to get him killed. That he was greater than the greatest power in Rome. Because he is that son of man – the one given everlasting dominion over all peoples, nations, and languages. Making of us a kingdom that shall not be destroyed.