A New Kingdom Ethic

A New Kingdom Ethic

During this season of Lent, we are taking a deeper dive into our expressions of gratitude. In doing so, we are guided by the book Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks by Diana Butler Bass and companion content from The Work of the People.

Rev. Lydia Sohn from St. Mark’s UMC will bring Sunday’s message and she shares the following:

I’m gonna start off by getting real with you. I’m STRUGGLING, like really, really struggling. I was already barely making it as a mom with two young children and a full-time minister but then, to have lost my childcare in the form of the preschool and all of my social connections has sent me into a spiral of anxiety attacks, breakdowns, and deep feelings of insufficiency that I can’t do it all.

On the flip side, this has made me incredibly grateful for my village, which is so much more expansive than I thought it was. I realized that it doesn’t just include my family and friends but my church, the local coffee shop where I love to get a hot cup of coffee and write my sermons, the preschool, the local playgrounds, the parents at my son’s school drop-offs and pick-ups, etc. We are all so much more interconnected than we think we are or presume to be and it takes a pandemic like this to truly realize that your thriving leads to my thriving and your suffering leads to my suffering.

This is not what the American spirit traditionally teaches though. The American and capitalist spirit usually teaches us that your winning leads to my losing and my winning leads to your losing. This reality that we are living in now is forcing us to free ourselves from a scarcity zero-sum game type of thinking to a belief that when we thrive, we enable and empower others to thrive as well.

This upcoming Sunday is Palm Sunday, the day where we usher in Jesus as the King of the Jews and recognize his true authority. The people back then, and unfortunately, people even now, hoped Jesus would usurp the power of the King of Rome and hoped that his entry into Jerusalem would mean liberating Israel from Rome and becoming the dominant power of the ancient near east. They (and we) had no idea that Jesus’ kingdom would look vastly different from the political kingdoms of old and new. Jesus’ kingdom was about love, sacrifice, compassion, and service.

This past week, I was so tempted to throw in the towel and disregard all governmental mandates to “shelter in place.” I wanted to get a massage, visit my family in LA, and tear through the yellow tape of a local playground. My husband, thank God for him, pastored to the pastor as he said: “We’re not sheltering in place for us. Even if we contracted Covid-19, we’d probably be okay because we’re pretty healthy and our immune systems are strong. We’re sheltering in place to serve those whose immune systems are compromised, for the medical workers who are already working past the brink of their capacities to save lives, so on and so forth. That’s who we’re doing it for–not for us.”

I looked at him and wished he wasn’t right though my heart immediately recognized his words as carrying the spirit of love, and consequently, the spirit of why we celebrate Palm Sunday: Jesus’ new kingdom ethic, Diana Butler Bass discusses in the chapter, “Table Memory.” Jesus models for us and invites us to exercise a power for rather than a power over. Tune into worship this Sunday to explore this idea with me more.

Luke 19:28-40 (CEB)
28After Jesus said this, he continued on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

Procession into Jerusalem
29As Jesus came to Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he gave two disciples a task. 30He said, “Go into the village over there. When you enter it, you will find tied up there a colt that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say, ‘Its master needs it.’” 32Those who had been sent found it exactly as he had said.

33As they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?”

34They replied, “Its master needs it.” 35They brought it to Jesus, threw their clothes on the colt, and lifted Jesus onto it. 36As Jesus rode along, they spread their clothes on the road.

37As Jesus approached the road leading down from the Mount of Olives, the whole throng of his disciples began rejoicing. They praised God with a loud voice because of all the mighty things they had seen. 38They said,

“Blessings on the king who comes in the name of the Lord.
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens.”
39Some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, scold your disciples! Tell them to stop!”

40He answered, “I tell you, if they were silent, the stones would shout.”

Consider these questions:

  1. How are you realizing in your own life how deeply interconnected you are with your neighborhood, country, and world at this time?
  2. How are your exercising this incredible privilege to serve one another during this pandemic?
  3. How are you struggling during this pandemic and where are areas you need more support?