Serving in the Kingdom
I have stated the similarity of Pinnacle Presbyterian Church and the early church in structure. In Advent I see a similar longing to that which was present two thousand years ago. There is a God. God is manifest in Jesus, in His resurrection He came to those who believed and those came together in community forming the body of Christ… the church. Together they pondered how can we live the ideal Christian life? Is it possible? Do we reject society? Do we embrace society? Can we live a Christian life in an anti-christian culture? Can we live in the world in the presence of temptation? These questions are in our longing as well and, in addition, we face the seduction of the affluence of our secular culture with its competing voices.
How hard is it to enter the Kingdom of God. For some it has been a blinding light and voice (Paul), a child's voice (Augustine of Hippo), a soft voice for listening (Elijah), but for many it is so hard to hear. The root of the word obedient is the word for listening. Jesus was always listening -- and the core of His prayer seems to be in solitude, in silence, and in the presence of God -- a time and a place of God and God alone. In Advent we are in a time, in a place, in preparation, and in waiting. Unlike the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the east we will not sell everything and live in solitude and silence in a cave (Antony), live in a monastic cell (Pachomius), live on top of a pillar (Simeon the Stylite), or live chained to a tree (David of Thessalonica). Yet we still seek space in which to listen. A spiritual life requires human effort to bring us closer to Jesus. It is hard to hear in a society where voices everywhere claim, "We can take care of ourselves. We are working on it. We are in control. We don't need spiritual answers to practical questions. We do not need God or Church.
Our search is a need to know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, cares, reaches out, wants to hear, wants to give love and receive love in response -- the heart of Jesus. We are disciples, and discipline is required for disciples. In the Advent Book Study, we examine the widespread hunger of and expanded spiritual life, meditation, reading, prayer and public worship. Discipline is required in the face of rationalism, technology-induced dislocation and stress, superficial values, and fear. We should expend effort both to enhance our relation with God and our sense of meaning and purpose as God's creation. It's a tough world out there… it was then and it is now… Jesus did not send disciples out alone… and we are in relationship to one-another and to God. Pinnacle Presbyterian Church is such a "big tent". Let us find someone and reach out during Advent… we know the wait is worth it… let's wait together.