Note: This is the text of the sermon, based on Mark 1.14-20, videotaped and shared with the people of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Spartanburg, SC, on the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany, January, 24, 2021.
“The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God has come near.” I prefer the Revised Standard Version’s wonderfully fleshy image: “The kingdom of God is at hand.”
This is the essence of the preaching of Jesus. Jesus, God-in-flesh, brought, brings God’s kingdom this close, in the hands of his life and ministry!
Now, Jesus doesn’t tell us what the kingdom is. For the people of his day, God’s kingdom was central, crucial to their historical and theological self-understanding. Very little explanation was needed. For us, some definition is helpful.
God’s kingdom, a complex concept, at its simplest, is God’s reign or realm. Principally, not an earthly or a heavenly domain, but rather a state of being.
Over twenty years ago (truly, dating myself!), when writing a sermon about God’s kingdom, I, possessed by a spirit of egalitarianism, searched for a less monarchical, less masculine and more relational, more inclusive term. The word “kin_dom” was given to me. (I cannot recall the source. Although I’d like to believe it was the Holy Spirit!)
The difference, for me, between kingdom and kin_dom points to the biblical meaning. For God’s reign is less about the dominion, much less the domination of Almighty God and more about God’s nature, God’s life. A nature, a life characterized by love and justice, unconditional benevolence and equality for all. For as God hath created all, all are God’s kin!
God’s reign, therefore, implies, requires the existence of a community of love and justice. For God’s reign is not about one being, even God, who is loving and just, but rather a community in which love and justice are the raisons d’être, the reasons to be for all.
So, it is that Jesus, again, God-in-flesh who has God’s kin_dom in his hands, stretched out his hands to call disciples to follow him, to be in community with him.
So, it is, reading on further in the Gospel of Mark, that Jesus, repeating that summons, would stretch out his hands to send his disciples on a missionary journey; never alone, but rather in small communities, two-by-two, to “fish for people,” to gather community.
So, it is that Jesus’ call, then and now, is an epiphany, a revelation of a paradox – that which, I oft define, at first glance, makes no sense, indeed, to the human intellect, is nonsense, yet that which, at its heart embraces, embodies deepest truth.
The kin_dom call to community is an invitation to discover that, in our life’s pilgrimage to be who God created us to be, we become fully our individual selves never alone, but always and only in the company of other fellow pilgrims…
Therefore, the kin_dom call to community is an invitation to share in our search for the meaning of life…
Therefore, the kin_dom call to community is an invitation to live in love and justice, one with another, one for another; for that is who God, the Author of Life is and what God does…
Therefore, the kin_dom call to community is an invitation to carry this message into the world.
So, it is that the Christian church, generally, and, specifically, we, St. Matthew’s, in responding “Yes!” to Jesus’ call, “Follow me”, are a community of love and justice.
Even more, especially more, we are an epiphany! A visible, physical revelation of the realization of Jesus’ proclamation: “The time is fulfilled. The kin_dom of God is at hand.”
Still more, the kin_dom of God is in our hands. Jesus sends us out into the world of our families and friends and strangers, schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods, wherever we travel near and far to share with the words of our lips and the works of our lives his love and justice. Or, in the language of our Collect, to “proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation.”
© 2021 PRA
 “Kin_dom”, December 10, 2000
 See Mark 6.7-13
 Full text of the Collect for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany: Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jesus calling James and John, James Tissot (1836-1902)
Jesus calling Peter and Andrew, James Tissot
Jesus Sends Twelve Disciples on Missionary Journey, James Tissot