In the last nine months, Reconciling Ministries Network has been committed to the sharing, showing, proclaiming, and living the ways in which “It’s Time” for The United Methodist Church to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people. We know that in the Kindom* of God, the time is always “now” for justice – there is simply no room for hierarchies of value among God’s creation and in all the ways we act otherwise, we immediately distance ourselves from the reign of the One who is Love.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus echoes this language, saying “The time has come. The Kindom of God has come near. Repent and believe the Good News!”
In the last three days, there has been such little “good news.” The lives of two more black men have been taken by the hands of a racist system that teaches white people to fear and control black bodies. The grief, weariness, and anger of what feels like an unbreakable pattern of the murder of black people is made even more painful by resistance to claims that black lives matter, resistance to looking at white privilege, and resistance to putting beliefs into action so that what is unjust can finally be made just. And last night, the sadness only deepened as an individual gunman took the lives of five officers who were monitoring a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. Grief added unto grief, as fear and pain threaten to deepen the chasms between us all and we seem to make such little progress in overturning the system of white supremacy that is costing us life after life after life – black lives, brown lives, white lives.
Jesus’ own declaration that “It’s Time” came immediately after the incarceration of John the Baptist who was calling for a radical change in society and in people’s hearts. In what was surely a painful and seemingly hopeless moment, Jesus proclaimed that “the Kindom is near” not as a promise that God’s Way would immediately arrive but as an urgent invitation to be the ones who usher in the desperately needed Good News of Love, Justice, Healing, and Community.
The Kindom of God – where everyone is valued, safe, and able to flourish – is always near. It hovers over our every decision to act or be complacent, to look within or to turn away, to confront structural powers or to avoid risky conversations. Jesus’ invitation to be a part of ushering in the Kindom is a challenging one in times like this. It requires all of us, but especially those who benefit from whiteness, to avoid seeking easy answers and to truly open ourselves to God’s work of turning our world upside down until every semblance of racial discrimination is wiped out.
Reconciling Ministries Network will continue to echo the words of Christ in proclaiming that “It’s Time” for us to usher in the Kindom – within the walls of the church and beyond. In the Kindom of God there is no exclusion of people based on gender identity or sexual orientation or race or ethnicity. The same Christ who calls us to work for an end to trans and queer discrimination calls us to seek equality for all people, making racial justice an inherent tenet of our faith. The love and justice of Christ is not parsed out into silos – it is uncompromisingly expansive and requires the same of us.
The Kindom of God is near and it’s time we usher it in.
*The word Kindom is a common substitute for the word Kingdom to reflect the inclusive nature of God’s reign. The Kindom of God is not rooted in the ruling of men implied by the word King and it is better reflected in the reference to family as in “kin” than it is a political ruling.