A fews weeks ago the song "Ice Cream" by Sarah McLachlan came on the radio. It was the live version and being that I was alone in the vehicle I had no one complaining when I turned up the music up and attempted to sing along. As I was singing off key and not really with the right words I heard McLachlan say to the crowd "Your Turn!". And the crowd present in that moment sung or shouted out the lyrics, eagerly joining with McLachlan voice. I could tell, even though I wasn't there, that there was something wonderful in that moment - the excitement could be felt even through the radio waves.
It struck me in that one particular moment, as I listened to the concert crowd take over McLachlan's voice, that this was a vision of the kingdom. The kingdom of God is like a concert... it's a modern day parable!
Here we have the artist - McLachlan - who created something beautiful and captivating presenting it to a crowd of people - her fans - and then as they are enjoying it, and sharing in it, she invites them into something more. She invites them to participate in the music! Now, this crowd is not full of professional singers or musicians. They haven't been part of a choir or practising for months. No, they are a unique collective of individuals, who are suddenly given the opportunity to be part of something special.
That's the kingdom of God. God has created something beautiful and captivating, and he presents it to us - his followers. We get to enjoy his world, his creation and actively be part of it. But then he invites us into something more. He invites us to be co-labourers, co-creators, kingdom builders. And he doesn't expect us to have all our ducks in a row, or have the Bible memorized, or be 100% sure about every aspect of doctrine. He just says "Come - sing with me - as you are". He loves us, delights in us, and desires fellowship with us. It's pretty incredible actually. Even though we are sinful and get things wrong he still says "Come".
God has given each of us ideas, talents, imagination, abilities, dreams and gifts that uniquely bless this world by bringing about his kingdom here and now. He longs for us to discover who he created us to be. To see as he sees. To listen to his voice. To be his voice. We all have something wonderful to offer because we have all been created in his image.
As deacons we have the privilege of not only using our God-given gifts to serve in the church for this time but also to encourage faithful stewardship of the gifts of our congregations. And this isn't just about encouraging people to give financially! No! We have been elected by our communities into this diaconal position and we are called to prompt people to seize opportunities to worship God with offerings of time and ability! We get to look for the good in each other and speak words of encouragement that help others find their voice, and sing without worrying about whether things are exactly right. Because nothing will ever be exactly right - that's our hope for heaven - when Christ returns and reconciles all things to him. Here and now, we can only step out in faith and as we do so, we will learn and grow. Mistakes will happen. We will say the wrong thing. We'll do the wrong thing. However, there is grace, and forgiveness, and as we continue to seek first the kingdom we will see that our gifts allow us to be part of something truly special - His Kingdom Come.