Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Looking for the Kingdom

As we did the week before, the Soldiers of Charlie Company at JSS Zeimer and I went to the lagoon to hold our worship service. This time, however, we decided to hold it from the cliffs above. LT Chase, Captains Messer and Capastani, SPC Dhale, and SSG Risperess were among those who joined us. Before field services, I will sometimes ask Soldiers to share with the group where they're from in the states and their denominational background. We often have Catholics, Baptists and non-denominational folks, but we also see Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Latter-day Saints, Holiness, and Gospel represented as well. My favorites are those who state, "no religious preference". They often stick around afterwards and have some pretty serious questions for me. I remind those at service that more than our many differences, we are united by two facts: one, our Father created each of us, and two, as God, Jesus is our Savior, Redeemer and Judge. Where in the states will they have a worship experience with such diversity, and yet such unity? (Then again, where in the states do folks bring their automatic weapons to worship?)

On this particular occasion we discussed the nature of the Kingdom of God: the topic Jesus spoke of most often and the most common subject of his parables. Taking my message from the Gospel of Luke, we discussed the principle of the Kingdom being a state of mind, an attitude of submission to God's will and reign. Turning from our impulse for self-concern is no small task. Jesus' willingness to forgive those who crucified him is a illustration of the type of submission to which we are called. And yet, it's been my observation that we do not possess this ability on our own--which, perhaps, is the reason the Lord taught us to pray for it: "Forgive our sins as we forgive those who sin against us." Soldiers in combat work very closely with one another. Frustrations and annoyances abound. The need to forgive and ask forgiveness is perhaps more essential in this setting than any other.

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