“Thy Kingdom Come”

It is here that we begin approaching the central issue. For if we have ceased to understand the gospel of the kingdom, and no longer know what we pray when saying the words of the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Thy kingdom come,’ it is because we no longer hear them in their fullness. We always start with ourselves, with questions about ourselves, for even the so-called ‘believer’ is very often interested in religion insofar as it answers questions concerning himself: is my soul immortal, does death put an end to everything or is there possibly something there beyond that fearful and mysterious leap into the unknown?  But the Gospel does not speak about such things. It calls “kingdom” the encounter of man with God, God who is fullness of life and the very life of all life, who is light, love, knowledge, wisdom, eternity. It tells us that the kingdom comes and begins when man meets God, recognizes him and with love and joy offers himself to him. It says that the kingdom of God comes when my life is filled to the brim with this light, with this knowledge, with this love. And finally it says for the person who has experienced this encounter and has filled his life with this divine life, that everything, including his death, is revealed in a new light, for that which he encounters, that with which he fills his life here and now, today, is eternity itself, which is God himself. Indeed, what are we praying for when we pronounce these absolutely unique words, ‘Thy kingdom come’? Above all, of course, we pray that this encounter may take place now, here, and today, in the present circumstances, that in my mundane and difficult life I could hear the words, ‘the kingdom is near you,’ and that my life would be filled with the power and light of the kingdom, with the power and light of faith, love, and hope. Furthermore, we desire that the whole world, which so evidently lies in evil and  longing, in fear and in striving, would see and receive this light, which entered the world some two thousand years ago, when at the outskirts of the Roman empire was heard that lonely, yet still resounding voice: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand’ (Mt 3:2). We pray also that God would help us to not betray this kingdom, not to constantly fall away from it, not to sink into the  engulfing darkness, and that finally, this kingdom of God would come in power, as Christ says.”   (Alexander Schmemann, Our Father, pgs 38-41)