by Elizabeth Hunter—
For me the words “Here and Now” are forever connected with a 30-year-old song by the late Luther Vandross. He won a Grammy for soulfully singing: “Here and now, I promise to love faithfully. …Your love is all I need.” His song is also known as an “earworm,” a catchy, popular tune or saying that gets stuck in your head long after the height of its popularity.
For me, God’s kingdom, here and now, has become another earworm. Here and now, so many people focus on fear: fear of dying, fear of living. Bible study author Mark Allan Powell explores our mission now and our future in heaven in a way that puts to rest many of those fears. Reflections of kingdom living will do that. These reflections can be found throughout the March/April issue.
Perhaps you, like me, will feel the comfort in Lindsay Hardin Freeman’s words (p. 9) about rocks, faith and the death of a friend, reflecting her understanding of God’s kingdom here and now. The poignant moments of ministry Violet Little (p. 20) invites us to share with The Welcome Church also carry a challenge: Will we expand our view of God’s loving, inclusive reign? That reign, here and now, means abundant life must be for everyone.
In God’s kingdom, ministry is also for everyone, Jennifer Ginn shares (p. 12) with the story of how she chose to receive communion alongside one of her parishioners. When we understand God’s kingdom as part of our here and now, we meet Jesus at the table. We reject messages from the world telling us we are not good enough, significant enough, beautiful enough (p. 16). Our hearts burn within us, as we recognize Jesus, who often walks with us unseen until bread is broken, until a relational connection is made.
Because I grew up in the church, coming to the table is sort of a muscle memory for me. Sometimes I forget, the way newcomers don’t, that it is both a miracle and mystery. God’s kingdom is the feast to come. This is a foretaste. Even in the here and now, we are all welcome. Here and now, we do matter. Here and now, everyone is (and everyone has) enough.
When we come together in our brokenness in the here and now, when we connect as healers and advocates for each other, God’s love becomes our love too. Because God’s reign is always one of abundant life for all.
As Ann Milliken Pederson reminds us (p. 32), Jesus is always for us. We journey, walking and eating together with the body of Christ. “We know the road—our path through fear and trauma,” she writes.
May Easter living become a way of life for us, a way of loving faithfully in the here and now, not just at that future feast to come. God’s love is all we need.
Elizabeth Hunter is is editor of Gather. A lifelong Lutheran, she enjoys sharing stories, walking and kayaking with her family.