Summertime is a beautiful mix of camping and concerts, watermelon and movie theaters, pot-lucks, rodeos and sitting on park benches by the river. Days long past yet fondly remembered mingle with the present moments. In summer, it’s easy to find contentment and joy. One of my favorite American poets, Wendell Berry, captured the sweet ease of summer in a few short lines
Given: Poems, IV
“The woods and pastures are joyous in their abundance now in a season of warmth and much rain. We walk amidst foliage, amidst song. The sheep and cattle graze like souls in bliss (except for flies) and lie down satisfied. Who now can believe in winter? In winter who could have hoped for this?”
Does that sound heavenly? I think so. The Kingdom of God is found in this present moment--not far off or in the distant future, but in the here and the now. When we encounter each day as a gift, we begin to realize that we don’t have to search for a far-away God! Instead, Jesus teaches us that “the Kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Luke 10:9) Try taking a walk outside with your eyes and your ears (and your heart) tuned into God’s nearness. Every blade of grass sings of God’s provision. Every insect’s buzz and warm summer breeze testifies to God’s movement. Every passing cloud is witness to the unfolding story of God’s plan.
During the month of July, our worship at St. James Lutheran Church will focus on living in the present moment, connecting with the Kingdom of God even as we work and play and gather together for family summertime fun. The gospel lessons in July let us walk with Jesus and his disciples during ordinary days while at the same time learning how to pray, how to listen and how to take good care of each other and our neighbors. It’s just this thing we do called “life”-and it’s heaven, right here on earth.
So, fire up the grill and watch fireworks. Walk the dog, catch a fish, climb a mountain or stroll in the park. Laugh with your family and love your neighbors. And, remember, the Kingdom of Heaven has come near to you.