Kingdom and Kin-dom

One might say the word “kingdom” is becoming obsolete, but not in Kansas City. After all…


But in our worship and liturgy, we may find that this word is becoming less and less relevant. When the Bible was written, not only did everyone understand what a kingdom was, virtually everyone understood what it was like to live in one – to be ruled by, taxed by, dominated by and (possibly) guided faithfully by, some kind of malevolent or benevolent monarch.

But times have changed, have they not? And if our liturgy is designed to communicate a timeless reality to real people in the pews (or chairs). On the face of it, this would preclude any antiquated concepts or expired vocabulary.

When I preach about the Kingdom of God/Heaven, I will regularly use substitute phrases. Kin-dom is actually not a favorite of mine, in oratory, but I will sometimes talk about “God’s Economy” (referring to a holistic system, not merely a financial one) or, as Martin Luther King, Jr. was fond of saying, the “Beloved Community”.

But that’s in preaching. And preaching is personal. Feedback is always welcome on my sermons, too, of course. But there are no fixed rules for preaching like there are for liturgy, and at its best a sermon should be personal to the one who’s delivering it.

In the process of deciding how we express our worship corporately, more factors need to be considered. One of those being the weight of tradition. Even if a phrase or a concept is antiquated, it might still bear repeating, if the repeating itself is an act of sacrificial worship. Sometimes it’s important to do the work, extending ourselves a bit to connect with the stream of consciousness that runs throughout history, and learn to flow with something much larger than ourselves.

Another factor is the way these phrases or concepts are utilized in Scripture, especially in the words of Jesus. And there’s no getting around the number of times Jesus refers to the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven (these two are used interchangeably). We can imagine that, if Jesus had come today instead of two thousand years ago, he might not have used this word. But we don’t know for sure. All we really know is that he did say Kingdom, so the burden of proof is on those who want to change it.

These are the arguments that went through my mind as requests came in to change Kin-dom back to Kingdom: “…and blessed be God’s Kingdom, now and forever, amen.” And so, that’s what I did. The people have spoken!

Thankfully, though, that doesn’t mean the conversation is over. It’s never over! It’s important to never take the words we say for granted, and to continue to examine what they mean to us, and to others who say and hear them.

May we forever speak the truth in love, like any good Kin-dom.

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