I reveled in the after-school silence. I had completed my preparation work for the next morning, and my desk was, for once, clear of papers and books. The other teachers were all either outside or had already gone home. I pulled the Harmony issue of Daughters of Promise out of my bag. This moment was the perfect chance to read another article.
I hit upon By Our Love by Emily Miller–and was soon absorbed in the words on the mustard-colored page. The topic was one dear to my heart: relating with love to those who disagree with us.
The ending was graced with these words:
I sat up straight and slammed my fist on the metal desktop. “Amen!” The echoes reverberated from the walls of the silent schoolroom.
It’s so easy to judge people according to our opinion. It’s harder to love them truly as Christ does. But the call has not changed. True love is not afraid to show itself in the messiest places.
Last spring during the lockdown that shut down school and church services, I came to school to pick up a few books one afternoon.
My mind whirled with the changes of recent weeks and years, and I wandered over into the dim and silent sanctuary. I thought about the church. What does it mean to be the church in such a time of turmoil as this? How are we doing at being there for each other and for a hurting world?
I stepped up behind the pulpit that has so many times held the Word of God. I bowed my head and prayed. For the church leaders. For the leaders of our country. For the church itself–all the diverse members. That God would make His glory known, that we could shine forth as a light despite the brokenness within and around us. Then the Lord’s Prayer flowed out of my heart as the only way to truly pray what I wanted to.
As I walked slowly down the aisle, I thought about the sureness of God. And then of the brokenness that exists even among those who are seeking to follow Jesus. How can we truly be the church to the suffering if we are unwilling to be the church among ourselves?
I stopped walking and knelt there on the dark carpet of the aisle. Again I prayed the deepest prayer ever.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
A week later, this poem took shape in paper:
Kingdom Prayer Your kingdom come, your will be done, O Lord; Your name be hallowed—hallowed in each place, Each life devoted to the soaring chase Of holiness, all heartbeats in accord With Yours: no other entity adored. Then You, O Lord, revealed within the face Of Jesus Christ, shall oust each selfish trace And come as our exceeding great reward. Your Kingdom come, Your living hope arise With glory—as the sun—among all men. Your will be done on earth, Yourself the prize Of every seeking soul, our passions then Uniting in a song to swell the skies. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done. Amen. ~Rebecca Weber
Since then, I have often prayed the Lord’s Prayer when I couldn’t put my heart cries into any other words. This is the Lord’s Kingdom, after all. It’s His work. My job is simply to pour out the love He has lavished on me, and trust Him to work through me and beyond me.
It’s not that hard to be a Christian all alone, sitting at a peaceful desk reading a beautiful magazine. But I have been asking myself: How am I doing in real life? Am I being a channel of harmony?
The Kingdom, after all, is made of people working together. And the only way to work together is through love.
The love that builds the Kingdom is like an adult crossword puzzle. It extends forward and backward, up and down. And it reaches diagonally–willing to love even those who go across the grain of our carefully thought out opinions.
This is the challenge that the church has faced throughout the ages. Jesus prayed “that they all may be one.” As we pursue this goal, our love will become evident. The colors of our individual lives will blend together and delight those who see us. And the Lord will be able to use us to build His kingdom.
For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.