A homily on Luke 1:39-55.
This week our confirmation youth begin their study of the Lord’s prayer with a focus on two phrases:
Your Kingdom come
Your Will be done.
It is in this context we consider the text from Luke chapter 1, more commonly called the Magnificat, or the song of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
But before we delve into that perhaps there’s some value in first digging into the word kingdom. When you think of that word, kingdom, what comes to mind? Here are two things that pop into my cranium.
The first is the United Kingdom. The UK is made up of four countries, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It’s a kingdom because the country has royalty, Queen Elizabeth II is the reigning monarch, and has been since 1952. What United the UK, initially at least, was war. Over several centuries what brought these lands together was the conquering of one country by another.
Even now religious conflict remains somewhat common in Northern Ireland. Many Catholics want to be reunited with the rest of Ireland; many Protestants wish to stay within the UK. They debate, they argue, sometimes they spar, sometimes it gets violent. The kingdom is United, tho not always unified; perhaps not too unlike our own country in that way.
And this kingdom is doing well financially, the UK, it represents the sixth largest economy in the world.
The second kingdom that comes to mind, and this may be fairly obvious coming from a former Floridian – is the Magic Kingdom. That’s the informal name for Disney World, the series of amusement parks in Orlando. It’s a kingdom, arguably, because at the center of the park is Cinderella Castle, complete with a costumed Cinderella and her costumed prince, always smiling, ready to shake hands or snap a photo with you too.
Kathi and I have been to the Magic Kingdom many, many times, and more recently our kids have too, and I can tell you, speaking from personal experience it is indeed magical. Disney is about as good as it gets when it comes to taking care of everyone that enters their kingdom. From the design of the theme parks, the quality of the rides, the transportation network that spans their four parks and dozens of hotel properties, the experience, from beginning to end, is simply magical. But don’t take just my word for it. In 2016 the park hosted over 20 million visitors, making it the most visited theme park in the world for the 11th straight year.
And, at last glance the Walt Disney company had assets of over 92 billion dollars, so it’s doing pretty well financially too. The worst thing I can say about the Magic Kingdom is this: it ends. It’s real, and magical, at least in the flesh, for only as long as you are there. When vacation ends so does the magic. After the magic ends you head home, back to your regular day-to-day.
Your Kingdom Come
When we pray your kingdom come, as part of the Lord’s prayer, this heavenly kingdom, come to earth through the Christ-child, seems so very different from our earthly kingdoms.
God’s kingdom came through not royalty sitting on a throne of gold, but instead through an unwed mother, pregnant from questionable circumstances.
Unlike earthly kingdoms God’s kingdom arrived not in a castle but in a manger, to a family without the resources to make room at the local inn.
God’s kingdom descended in the midst of violence, King Herod really did want to kill off this new King of Kings. But God’s kingdom is different, and never got involved in a bloody struggle for power. Instead God’s kingdom brought the great, non-violent unifier, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace.
Your Will Be Done
We get a clue about what God’s kingdom looks like, and what it means to pray Your Will be done, from our scripture reading today.
As a first-time mother, carrying the hopes of the world in her womb, I can only imagine the joy Mary felt as she sang of God’s kingdom, and God’s will for us all, as the kingdom of God literally grew within her. Her song teaches us that:
God’s will be done not by the raising up of the powerful, but instead by bringing them down from their thrones, and lifting up the lowly in their place.
God’s will be done when the hungry are fed good things, taken care of by a kingdom that looks after not just the 1% or the 2% or the 5%, but instead looks after everyone.
And unlike the Magic Kingdom, which is magical for only a certain time and place – during vacation – God’s Will be done is a promise, made to our ancestors, made to us, made to our descendants forever.
It is a promise that crosses national borders, peacefully. God’s kingdom unites us, bringing people from around the globe together in a common identity. Together in common purpose. God’s kingdom it is a promise that God is with us. And it is a promise that never ends.
God’s promise, when fully embraced, as Mary embraced with her whole self, brings joy. May you also do as Mary did, your soul magnifying the Lord, your spirit rejoicing in God your savior. For unlike earthly kingdoms, which can’t help but be corrupted and lead to haves and have nots, or are just a temporary reprieve from reality – as fun as that can be – God’s kingdom, when lived out, unites in ways no earthly kingdom can.
God’s kingdom is here. God’s kingdom is now. God’s kingdom is forever. And, most importantly, God’s kingdom is for you. Amen.