Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Will The Real Grinch Please Stand Up?

This time I offer an Advent sermon I preached last year. While the content is mine, I am indebted to the person whose name escapes me who gave me the idea in the first place. The sermon is based on matthew's account of the magi's visit to the holy family in Matthew chapter 2. It may help to read the scripture before delving into the rest of this blog.

Merry Christmas!

Will The Real Grinch Please Stand Up?

Not too long ago I admitted to my family that I think was turning into a kind of Scrooge. Not that I don’t like Christmas or giving presents or feasting and the obligatory post-feast nap. But, I am not really into decorating the house anymore, or throwing ornaments on our fake tree, or climbing up on the roof to string lights. That just doesn’t put me in the Christmas mood anymore.

When I was a kid, things were much different. From December first my excitement got ratcheted up in anticipation of how many presents under the tree would have my name on them. Each year we had one of those Advent calendars – the kind where each day you would open up a window to see a picture beneath and you were supposed to anticipate celebrating Christ’s birth. In truth, I was celebrating one more day closer to when I would get presents!

Along with that Advent calendar we had an Advent wreath that we would light every Sunday night as we marked the Sundays until – I got presents!

I also had to watch three shows on TV or it just wasn’t Christmas: The Charlie Brown Christmas special, A Christmas Carol (I like the George C Scott version the best), and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. All three, I think, contain an element of the gospel – but I didn’t care then, I just knew these were cool Christmas shows.

This morning I am going to ask us to look at our Scripture lesson through the lens of Doctor Seuss and see if we can’t spot the real Grinch who stole Christmas – the Grinch who keeps us away from the manger.

There are three sets of folks to whom we might point as the main suspects for the Grinch: Herod, The Magi and the Chief Priests and Scribes. Let’s take a closer look at each.

Herod was the Roman governor of Judea at the time Jesus was born. Herod was an interesting character. On one side of the coin Herod was a helpful leader. Though he imposed heavy taxes on the people, there were times when Herod repealed the taxes and once even sold some of his personal possessions to buy grain for the people during a famine. Herod is credited with some outstanding architectural feats in his time; including re-building the Temple at Jerusalem. For these and many other deeds Herod became known as Herod the Great. One the other side of the coin, Herod was a jealous and paranoid ruler. Herod was suspicious of anyone who might look like they had designs on his throne. And, it seemed as if anyone looked at him cross-eyed he would have them killed. On that list were not only political rivals but family as well including his wife, a few sons and several of his in-laws. Someone in Jerusalem once remarked that it you had a better life expectancy if you were Herod’s pig than his son. As he neared his death, Herod was so unpopular with the people that he ordered that on the day of his death all of the Jewish leaders would be rounded up and killed so that the people would mourn on the day of Herod’s death rather than celebrate.

There is no written historical evidence uncovered thus far to prove that Herod actually ordered the slaughter of the innocents as Matthew describes later in the text. But it is certainly not outside of Herod’s character to order children murdered.

When the magi come to Herod and ask where they can find the new born king of the Jews, Herod feigns interest and asks them to find the child and tell him where to go so that he may worship Jesus. Herod, of course, has no interest in going near the manger. Herod’s only interest is himself – he looks out for number one.

You know, sometimes looking out for number one keeps us from seeking Christ. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

The magi are another prime suspect for the Grinch in the story. The magi are astronomers from the area of Iraq – probably Baghdad. They see a star rise in the night sky and by pouring over scrolls and consulting symbols decide that this star means the birth of a new king of Israel. Now, tradition says there were three wise men because they brought three gifts. Someone once imagined what it would be like if they were wise women instead of wise men: they would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver he baby, clean the stable, make a casserole, brought practical gifts and there would be peace on earth.

The magi see a star rise in the western sky and wondered what it meant. They had a guess, but they really didn’t know for sure. So, they make a nearly two-year journey to check out their theory. Truly they were seekers of truth. But, they went to the wrong place to find it. They went to Jerusalem. Now, that made sense: if you think you are looking for a king, you go to the capitol of the kingdom. But, Jesus wasn’t that kind of king.

How many times do we think we know who Jesus is, or who Jesus ought to be and so we look in the wrong places to find him? But, I am getting ahead of myself.

Finally, we have the chief priests and the scribes. These were guys who were well educated in the details and nuances of the Scriptures. It was their life-long passion and pursuit to know the Bible inside and out. I imagine that may have given them a sort of spiritual arrogance. When Herod asks them where the Messiah was to be born, the chief priests and scribes didn’t even bat an eye; “In Bethlehem.” They said. And, they even quoted Herod that obscure verse from Micah. Now, here were guys who knew the Scriptures, but didn’t care enough to go beyond them. They thought their intellect would get them through as if there was a written exam to get to heaven. I know people like that. They know the Bible backwards and forwards but they don’t know God; they don’t care to seek the one to whom the Scriptures point and they think that since they have all the Scriptural answers that they can keep the manger at arms length. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

So, we have Herod who killed the children around Bethlehem. Is he the Grinch? Does he steal Christmas? He would be my prime suspect, but no, Herod doesn’t steal Christmas. How about the magi? They thought they knew where to find truth, but they went to the wrong place. Did they steal Christmas? No. While thy may have been unwitting accomplices in the murder of the innocents, they did eventually make it to the manger and we’ll leave it up to them and God whether they found a king or a savior. So, how about the chief priests and scribes; are they the Grinch? Well, they may have been arrogant and apathetic, but they didn’t steal Christmas. They didn’t care enough to make the short journey to Bethlehem to take anything.

So who is the Grinch? May I suggest that the only person who can steal Christmas is us and the only people we can steal it from is ourselves? We can steal Christmas away from ourselves when we are focused only on ourselves and our wants and our desires and our agenda. We can steal Christmas away from ourselves when we want Jesus to be something that Jesus is not and so we look for Jesus in all the wrong places or through all the wrong practices. We can steal Christmas away from ourselves when we let our intellectual arrogance get in the way of caring enough to seek Jesus or when we allow our knowledge of the Bible to keep God at arm’s length.

There are lots of other things that we allow to keep us away from Christ: doubts, bitterness, hurt, resentment and ignorance. Is there something keeping you away Christ? I want to encourage you to set that aside, even if it is just for a day, and come to the manger and be embraced by the God who came to the world for you.

Please don’t spend this Christmas away from the manger.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Line We Don't Want Crossed

There is an imaginary line we tend to draw around the calendar
encircling the time from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day.

There are certain things we think ought not to cross over that line into our lives during that time:
troubled marriage,
job loss,

I thought about that the day before Thanksgiving. I was stopped along the side of Main Street watching a funeral procession go by. I thought how sad it was that this family will, for some years, remember Thanksgiving as the time when a loved on died.

It was also the day my friend and colleague, the Reverend Doctor Ken Christler was laid to rest.

Ken was not much older than I am. He was on a ladder and fell on his head on the pavement. He was in a coma for several days before he died and was buried the day before Thanksgiving.

For admittedly selfish reasons I couldn't bring myself to attend his funeral.

I am still trying to sort out Ken's death. The language that "God allowed this to happen" isn't palatable to me. (Neither, of course, is the language that God caused this to happen.)

I am not looking for a purpose in Ken's death.

I am really not sure right now what I am looking for.

I feel terrible for Ken's wife and kids and siblings. They will, for several years, remember Thanksgiving as the time when Ken died.

Collectively, I think we all feel bad when tragedy strikes "during the holidays."

Sad stuff shouldn't cross that line into what is supposed to be a joy-filled time.


Sad stuff DOES happen...ALL the time.

Tragedy does not consult a calendar.

Cancer and depression, unemployment and economic crises, marital problems and even death do not keep their distance during the holidays.


neither does God.

My favorite Biblical nickname for Jesus is "Immanuel" - which means, "God with us." To me, that is much more than a statement of the incarnation. It tells me that God is not afraid of the sad stuff that seems to cling to our lives. It tells me that God is with us during those sad and tragic times - even when they cross the imaginary line into the holidays.

In fact, Jesus was born into a world where tremendous tragedies were occurring on a regular basis. Could those tragedies be part of the "fullness of time" in which Jesus came? (see Galatians 4:4)

That Jesus is God with us doesn't change the fact that people lose their jobs, or get cancer, or divorce, or die - during the holidays or any other day.

It doesn't change the circumstances, but it can change my perspective and my response. And, it does give me hope and some sense of comfort and peace.

And that's what I will cling to while I am trying to sort out Ken's death.

That's what I will cling to even if I don't sort out Ken's death.

That's what I will cling to every time death and other sad stuff crosses the line into life

- mine or anyone else's

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's Not Just Fun

Something my wife said yesterday got me thinking.

She was making an announcement for our new Yada Yada Prayer Group; which is loosely based on the book series of the same name. We are really excited to offer this opportunity for the women of our church and we are sure that the women who participate will not only enjoy themselves but discover new relationships with each other and with God.

So, Keri was inviting people to come to our first Yada Yada group and she ended up with this: "It will be fun." (Now, I have already talked with her about this so don't think for a second that I am talking behind her back.)

"It will be fun." Not, "It will bring us closer to God."

"It will be fun." And, I am sure it was (our first meeting was last night and we had a great group of women) and will be fun. But, I am pretty sure that is not the primary reason for having a Yada Yada group.

Why do we feel like we have to emphasize the "fun" part of our ministries and programs???

Are people that desperate to have fun?

Is "fun" the best drawing card we've got?

Are people still thinking that doing Christian stuff is sucking the life out of fun and the fun out of life???

Now, I have to hasten to say that I am more guilty than anyone about inviting people to our programs and ministries because they will have fun. But, I have decided to make a change. Instead, I want us to emphasize that what we do brings us closer to God.

"Come and hand out food with us...it will bring us closer to God."

"Come with us to lead a worship service at the county jail...it will bring us closer to God."

"Come to our Yada Yada Prayer Group, our worship services, our Bible studies, our Spiritual Formation Hour, our Elementary Fellowship night...it will bring us closer to God."

"Oh, and you'll have fun, too!"

I suspect that the greatest need of the folks in our community is not to find opportunities to have fun (though I am sure that many would disagree with me) but to find opportunities to come closer to God with other people who are on that journey as well.

But, why can't the things that bring you closer to God also be fun? Just ask the women that attended the Yada Yada group. Just ask the folks who do our Forgotten Man Ministry. Just ask the 50 or so volunteers that helped pass out food last month. Just ask the folks that worship with us on Sunday morning. Or our Stephen Ministers.

I am guessing that most of those folks will say that doing something that brings you closer to God and having fun are not mutually exclusive.

It just depends on the emphasis.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

From Frustration to Freedom

I'm frustrated.

I have been frustrated for several years.

It seems like all the trade publications to which I subscribe and all the book catalogs I get have conspired to make me feel inadequate. These magazines tell me that I won't have a vital, missional, growing church unless I go to this seminar, or take that class, or go to such-and-such a conference. In fact, these magazine are now telling me that people will leave my church if I don't attend this or that. The books that the catalogs are hyping are telling me that unless I read this book I really don't understand ministry or culture.

And, then there are the books by the superpastors. These pastors and their minions write that I should start a new church and if I pray to God enough, and if I am faithful enough, then the new church will explode practically overnight and there will be no challenges, no wounds, no obstacles. God will provide a building and a parsonage and a great staff and top-rated musicians for your Praise Band even before you get started...all for free.


That may play in the silicon valley, or in Chicago, or Miami, but it doesn't play in Snover...or Flushing. I decided that a few years back.

I am tired of the church growth movement. I am tired of church and marketing used in the same sentence.

And, while I am at it...when did the church become a marketer for someone else's movie or T-shirts or bobble-head Jesuses??? Now I have to rent out a movie theater and give away tickets and t-shirts and key-rings and show someone's movie that portrays the gospel in a way that will reach our culture. If I don't, I am behind the times, and behind the eight-ball and behind several other things that, I'm sure, aren't good.


This cannot be happening!

Yeah, yeah...I know...the church has to remain relevant to the culture. The church has to speak to the culture. The church has to remain relevant. But, what does that mean? Does that mean we have to wear certain clothes, or tattoo our arms, or show movies, or sell DVD's, or give away iPhones? Or does it mean that we need to meet people with intelligent and loving responses to life's questions that point toward Jesus Christ (or at least provide a safe place for those questions to be asked and explored)? Does it mean that we become a strip mall offering a bookstore, a movie theater, a coffee shop, a free clinic, and twenty-seven different worship services with twenty-seven different worship styles each with their own pastor, staff and musical group? Or, does it mean that we are willing to journey with people and help them find God and Christ and grace and justice in the midst of whatever it is they find themselves in at any given time in their life?

When did pastors stop being spiritual role models and start becoming and rock stars an CEO's? When did the church stop being the people of God on a journey and start becoming a destination?

But, my frustration doesn't stop there, my friends...oh no.

For all of my career, and for years before it began, I have had a desire that non-believers and those who have been wounded and disillusioned by a church would enjoy a new or renewed relationship with God in Christ and with Christ's church. That desire has become more intense over the years. But, I have not been given the gift of evangelism. But, I have been given other gifts that help me share my faith in Jesus Christ and help me to organize and administrate ministries that help the congregations I have served witness their faith and invite people into a relationship with God and his church.

I/we have had some moderate success.

I know I have this desire for the non-believer and the dis-churched. I know that many of my congregation share that desire. Unfortunately, the non-believers and the dis-churched don't seem to know that we have this desire - and they are staying away in droves.

Back to the magazines and catalogs.

They tell me that if I do this or that then people will be beating down my door.

I don't believe it. I don't believe it because I don't believe that God is a cosmic vending machine and if I put the right amount of change in and push the right buttons in the right order then my congregation will grow. I don't believe that God works only within the bounds of a formula.

So, I have come to a decision.

I will lead our church to be the church that I believe God is imagining us to be. I have begun talking and praying with my team about what that might look like. And, I have been inspired, challenged and stretched. But, I am firmly convinced that this is by God's Spirit and God's grace. You couldn't talk me out of that. I am being freed from the need to be approved of by my peers and by the super-rock-star pastors. I am being freed from the need to have my congregation triple in one week...okay that wasn't really a need...more of a dream (I blame the super-rock-star pastors).

But, more than anything else, I am being freed from the frustration.

Freedom feels good.

And, I am excited - really excited - about the possibilities and potentials that God is revealing to me as I live into my decisions and my freedoms.

Excitement is good.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The War of the Guys In Me

This will be an intensely personal blog so feel free to skip it if you want. I don't imagine it will be intensely personal because I will be writing about myself through it all, but because I will be writing about a raw nerve in my own being an perhaps yours as well.

I am a recovering perfectionist. Which is to say that that I am a perfectionist and that has often messed with my sense of self, many of my relationships and sometimes my ministry. Mostly, though, it messes with my own sense of self. I am my own worst critic and my own worst enemy. And, I am trying not to live in that framework. However, I am usually at war within myself - the holiness guy in me insists that, until I get my life more perfectly aligned with Christ, I am not entirely acceptable to God. The mystic in me tells me that God loves and accepts me perfectly and completely and unreservedly just as I am - flaws and imperfections and poor choices and all. The holiness guy fires back that the mystic guy is all about sloppy agape and cheap grace and whatever happened to becoming more like Jesus (read: perfect)? The mystic guy tells me that the holiness guy is a legalist with unrealistic standards that not even God demands. Holiness guy insist that sin and grace cannot co-exist in the same person. Mystic guy says, "They can and they do, dummy. Look in the mirror!" And, they end up making rude gestures at each other as they fight for dominance.

I am reading a book by Brennan Manning that is not really helping out the holiness guy in me. Father Manning writes about the furious grace of God - furious not in the sense of anger but in the sense of powerful and driven. God's grace is furious in the sense that God wants to pour it out liberally on everyone...soak us in it. But, like the people of the Gulf Coast who (rightly so) nail boards to their windows to keep out the hurricane's wind and rain, perfectionists often erect barriers (not rightly so) against God's grace.

Father Manning re-tells the story at the end of the gospel of John where Jesus meets Peter and the other disciples on the beach with breakfast. This is after Peter had denied Jesus three times in the courtyard of the high priest. Sometime during or after that meal Jesus asks Peter three times, "Peter, do you love me?" and Peter answers three times, "You know I love you, Lord." And, in reply, each time Jesus tells Peter "Feed my sheep/tend my lambs."

Here's what was new for me: the idea that Jesus knew that Peter loved him, even as he denied Jesus in the courtyard. Jesus knew Peter's denial was an act of self-preservation and not a deliberate attempt to hurt Jesus. So, Jesus gives Peter the opportunity to reiterate his love for Jesus for each of the times Peter denied him. It was not so much an act of "atonement" as I had always thought, but an act of compassion for Peter. Let me 'splain...

If I were Peter (and I am pretty sure there is a Peter that runs around in me somewhere) I would be beating myself up for having denied Jesus when the chips were down. I would have talked myself into a downward spiral of how bad a person I am and how Jesus would never forgive me and how I was not fit to be in a relationship with God and how my footsteps stain this earth and so on. But, Jesus was not thinking that. Jesus knew my heart. Jesus knew that I really do love him, I was just thinking more about my own hide than his that night. (Thank God that every mistake we make does not mean an ending.) So, Jesus leads me into an opportunity to re-affirm my love and he re-affirms his.

But, that's not all. Jesus then gives Peter a commission: "Feed my sheep. Tend my lambs." This was perhaps John's way of telling how Peter became a leader in the early church. Brennan Manning writes, "Jesus didn't say anything more, what he said was enough. Do you love me? Can you allow my love to touch you in your weakness, and set you free there, and empower you? So that when Peter went out from then on empowered by Jesus, the only power he had was Jesus' love for him and his love for the Lord. That's the only power he had."

In my call to ministry I had a similar commission as Peter - in a kind of a shepherd motif. And, I have the same empowerment - though I didn't know it until now. I have been thinking that my empowerment came from my seminary degree (it doesn't) or from my ordination (it doesn't) or from my keen mind and powerful sermons and gifts for organization and administration (yeah...right!) My empowerment comes solely from God's love for me and my love for God. And, the rub is that even when I don't exactly love God, God still loves me and that empowers me to be the guy I was created and redeemed to be.

So, holiness guy in me is retreating and mystic guy in me is smiling smugly. Mystic guy isn't winning - I like to think it is God in me who is winning. May that be for all the recovering and not yet recovering perfectionists out there.

Maybe John Lennon was right: all you need is love.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Balance and Rhythm

We talk a lot today about finding balance in our lives.

I think of the woman who works a full time job, taxis her kids to soccer games, cooks supper and volunteers at her daughter's elementary school PTO. And, at some moment, maybe during a PTO meeting, or maybe at soccer practice, or during her coffee break, she takes her mind off the meeting, or off the practice or away from the office politics long enough to think to herself, "When did my life spin out of control?" Or, I think of the guy who works a lot of over time, coaches his son's baseball team and is an officer in his local lodge. Maybe while he is driving between work and the lodge meeting he thinks to himself, "When do I get a little 'me time?'"

Now, the contemporary prescription for those questions is to find balance. But, I wonder, balance between what? Work and family? Work and rest? Work and volunteerism? The physical and the emotional? The physical and the spiritual? All of the above? None of the above? More than the above?

Where is the fulcrum??? Do we work 40 hours and spend time with our family for forty hours? Or is ten enough? Or two? Do we spend an hour in prayer every week, along with an hour of worship, work 35 hours, play six hours, relax three hours, read for an hour, and spend the remainder with our family? Which family? My wife and kids? My in-laws? My brothers and their family? Is this balance?

I am thinking that balance is an elusive if not an illusory thing.

The ancient, and I believe Biblical, response to the needs of the woman and man above is not to find balance, but to discover a rhythm in their lives. I believe that God built a certain rhythm into the universe: breath out - breath in, the beating of a healthy heart, work - rest, sunrise - sunset (if you are now thinking of the song from Fiddler on the Roof you are both corny and old. But, then again, I thought of the song from Fiddler on the Roof, so maybe that makes you a well-rounded individual with good taste in musicals.)

Only within the last hundred years or so have we scientifically discovered what the church has been singing for much longer: that there is a song in creation. At an atomic and even a sub-atomic level, everything is vibrating. Physicists tell us that the vibration of the electron shell of a carbon atom vibrate at a perfect tone scale of C,D,E,F,G, A - a perfect Gregorian chant hexachord. Marching soldiers who come to a bridge must break step because their cadence gives off a frequency that could destroy the bridge. It is forbidden for the crowd at the Clemson football stadium to sing, Louie, Louie because the song gives off frequencies that are the same as the frequency of the stadium and causes it to fall apart - seriously. I wonder of that was one of the ways God used to bring down the walls of Jericho?

So, if there is music and rhythm built into the universe, perhaps we can find what we are looking for in our frenetic lives by finding rhythm rather than balance?

John and Charles Wesley were ridiculed harshly by their classmates at Oxford University for having a rhythm. Charles had rhythm, that's why he wrote so many hymns - but John and Charles and the rest of the "Holy Club" had a rhythm, or a schedule. They would get up every morning at a certain time, pray, read the Bible, eat breakfast, go to class, study, eat lunch, go to class, pray, go to a prison or a hospital or an orphanage and help people, eat dinner, do homework, read the Bible and go to bed. This more or less repeated itself every day. And, for this rhythm John and Charles were derogatorily called "Methodists." They had a method, a schedule, a rhythm. And, WOW, what an impact they had for the kingdom of God!

Now, personally, I think John was way too anal about his rhythm. And, I am not suggesting that we all follow John Wesley's rhythm. But, I am suggesting that we find our God-given rhythm. As a person who is recovering from a nervous break-down I can testify to the importance of finding your God-given rhythm.

I don't know what that will mean for you, but I know for me it means looking at rest and exercise as if they were appointments I have to keep rather than things I can do if I have time. It means I have to be more intentional about the things that are important, and intentional about discerning between the important and the urgent.

I guess at the end of the day, if you want to waltz through life you have to live in three-quarter time.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Turning the World Right-Side Up

In the beginning God spoke the universe into being. (Scientists have yet to reveal what caused the big bang or where the matter came from that scattered to form the boundaries of the universe and all that dwell therein.) God spoke the word and what God spoke came into being. And, at some point God decided that what had been created was "very good." It was just the way God had intended it to be.

Then came the moment when evil an sin entered the world. This was not part of God's "very good" world. This was not God's intention. Evil and sin took root - in creation, but more importantly in the inner self of all of humankind. In other words, when push comes to shove and sometimes when it doesn't, or when we are up against a wall and sometimes when we are not, we tend to choose self over everything else. We tend to choose what feels good for us, what seems to benefit us the most and we tend not to think of what our choices and actions and words can do to someone else. I believe that this really clobbered God's "very good" world; and turned it upside down.

One of the main jobs of the church is to participate with God in turning the world right-side up again.

That's not an incredibly popular thing to do. Most folks are pleased with the world as it is, thank you very much. They have learned to live and prosper in an upside down world. It feels good because it is what they know, and how dare we threaten what they know and what they have come to depend on!

There is an interesting scene in the book of Acts where Paul and Silas come to the city of Thessalonica and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in the synagogue. Some of the synagogue folks were upset so naturally they started a riot. When the police came the charge against Paul and Silas was that they were the guys who were "turning the world upside down." It would be interesting to see the legal briefs on that one.

The world they were turning "upside down" (or right-side up depending on how you look at it) was a world of sin and corruption, injustice and inequality, idolatry and vice of every kind.

I am pretty sure that turning that kind of world upside down is a good thing. It isn't a popular thing, but a good thing. Turning the world right-side up means change and change is threatening to some people because change means going from what is known to what is unknown. But, it seems to me that if evil, injustice and corruption are the status quo, it is a good thing to overturn them in favor of what is just and good and right.

Sin and evil are indeed the status quo for the most part. Do I really need to illustrate from current headlines??? The church is called to be the prophetic voice for what is good and right and just and Godly in this world. But, if all we have are words, then we join the ranks of the crystal ball-gazers and snake oil salesmen that all seem to have an alternative suggestion for how this world should run. We MUST put action to our voice. We must be agents of change, even if that simply means changing our little corner of the world.

After Apartheid was thrown out as the official policy of South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The idea was that anyone who had committed a human rights crime could come forward, reveal the truth and find some sense of forgiveness for participating in a world truly upside down. How well that worked is up for debate, but it was a Godly step that reflected the values of the Kingdom of God - thus it was a step toward turning the world right-side up. Desmond Tutu told audiences that maybe God was using his little country to model a part of the Kingdom to the rest of the world.

Maybe we aren't going to set up any kind of Truth and Reconciliation Commission (on the other hand the church is supposed to be a kind of Truth and Reconciliation place anyway), but we CAN model part of the Kingdom of God through our words and actions; we can do things that help God turn the world right-side up again.