• revtracyparker

The Peaceful Kingdom

I received a letter from our General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, Rev. Terri Hord Owens, this week. In it she speaks of the prophet Isaiah’s “Peaceful Kingdom.” This passage of scripture is the model for our denomination’s “movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.”[1] The Spirit of God and our sacred texts remind us to live in righteousness. A fragmented world makes us feel as if we are surrounded by enemies, but God’s Peaceful Kingdom described in Isaiah 11 says that natural enemies can and will live together:

“The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

This Peaceful Kingdom cannot be accomplished by our own efforts, but must be brought by the Spirit of God.

Rev. Owens tells us in her letter, “In revisiting the history of the Design and Merger Agreement, it is clear that we must return to a deep theological understanding of the covenant and of the ways in which we are the church together. The work of being church together is spiritual work, not just organizational work...If we can truly embrace the spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible study so that the Spirit can have Her way, we will be able to see that differences are not deficiencies. We are called to both the tasks (and tension) of unity and freedom together, walking together when we disagree as only truly spiritual people can.”[2]

In a fragmented world, dare we say POLARIZED world, the work of God’s Spirit, and our own work for unity, is vital. Our denomination is much like our own families; we are deeply divided over worldly issues. Our work, as a church, is about unity, not uniformity. Rev. Owens calls the church to be in a season of prayer for the Church, and for God’s people. She and other leaders of the denomination are entering into a season of prayer for us, local congregations, who are feeling the tension. Being in prayer for one another, our three expressions of the “church”(local, regional and general levels) will work together to show up in God’s world to fulfill our vision “to be a faithful and growing church, that demonstrates true community, deep Christian spirituality and a passion for justice.”[3]

[1] Identity statement of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

[2] Letter from The Office of the General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada

[3] Vision statement of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

[4] Photo by Amelia Cloud used with permission

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