But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Almost every Sunday since Brian and I joined this church in 1988 we have said these words together, "...thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven...." We are so thankful that over the years our understanding and experience of these words has become larger and more inclusive.
Greg and I both remember learning the song "Jesus Loves the Little Children...Red and Yellow, Black and White..." You see, we were taught one vision of the kingdom of God but we saw another.
For young men who were beginning to come to grips with the fact that we were gay, we knew that we really did not have a place in the kingdom, which we had seen and been a part of since we were children. Yet, in our hearts we knew God had to have a place for us.
The very Sunday Brian and I joined this church, Monaei Schnur came to our home to visit and welcome us - the kingdom of God was brought to us. I began to usher and welcomed the folks as they came here for the first time with Jackie Pendergraph - the kingdom of God was coming to the stranger.
I began to assist Marcia Hemingway and Merle Ford with a worship service at St. Matthew Manor - the kingdom of God was coming to the widowed and the sick.
The AIDS crisis came and the Solidarity Sunday School class listened to our story of caring for persons living with AIDS, gave Brian and me a safe space to tell our story of being gay, and then they started preparing meals for the persons living with AIDS at Lyndon Lane Nursing Center and more importantly, sitting down with them and sharing the meals with them - the kingdom of God was coming to the outcasts.
The church began to welcome the immigrants and assisting them in beginning a new life here – the kingdom of God coming to the foreigners.
While we know there have been many wonderful and powerful sermons preached in this church, it has been the actual ministries of this church that have taught and shown us that the kingdom of God can and has come on earth as it is in Heaven. This church has helped us find our way and given us a safe place, a place in God's kingdom. This church has embraced our gifts and helped us grow in love and grace and has supported us, as we have ministered through our professions.
One Sunday last year, we watched this church gather and then come forward for communion. We saw a community of faith that was, Red and Yellow and Black and White, young and old, gay and straight, rich and poor. I started to cry thinking we are part of a church, just like that song we learned when we were children, just like God's kingdom!
I think it was the very next Sunday that the congregation gathered on the front steps for the church photo, it was like the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. This hope of God’s kingdom coming is why we gather here, this is why we give of our time, and this is why we give our money!
Since that day when many of us gathered on the steps, Greg and I have been praying, that we, CHBC, will quit selling ourselves short and see the kingdom of God in our midst and the witness we have to share with the world.
So God's kingdom may come here to Crescent Hill, to Louisville, to Kentucky to the world and finally one day perfect in heaven.
God’s kingdom of love and grace and justice! Amen.