Sermon Seeds: Kindom

Sunday, June 18, 2023
Third Sunday after Pentecost | Proper 6 | Year A
(Liturgical Color: Green)

Lectionary Citations
Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7) and Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 • Exodus 19:2-8a and Psalm 100 • Romans 5:1-8 • Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23)

Sermon Seeds

Focus Scripture:
Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23)
Focus Theme:

Proclaim (Click here for the series overview.)

By Cheryl A. Lindsay

One of my college professors loved the opening scene in the movie Patton. I can’t remember which course it was, but I went to business school not a military academy so it was a little surprising to have one of our classes start with a clip of that introductory scene. It is visually powerful. A larger than life American flag fills the shot. You hear the clicking of his boots before you see Patton move in view as he seems to walk up from the floor beneath the flag in what seems to be an auditorium. He salutes as the camera jumps to close ups of his uniform, regalia, and even person. He starts his message in his brusque, clipped voice, “Be seated. I want you to remember that no [one] won a war by dying for his country….” In the next five minutes, he delivers a rhetorical masterpiece (whatever you may think of the message) to reframe any hint of aversion to war from his audience of soldiers and to encourage them to enjoin the battle with vigor, enthusiasm, and pride. Patton is a war movie, and the general–and the filmmaker–want us to know that people love war.

The term “kindom” has been adopted in many Christian communities as an alternative to the word “kingdom.” In part, the substitution reduces the patriarchal language found in biblical witness and Christian tradition. “Dom” retains the centrality of the sovereignty of God in the realm that has no end. The “kin” emphasizes the primacy of relationship and beloved community in the reign of the Holy One on earth as it is in heaven. It also reduces the framework of violence often found in discussions of the coming and realization of God’s realm and replaces it with the language of family, connection, and love.

This passage in Matthew, however, sounds like Jesus is a commanding officer sending his troops off to war. Unlike the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus paints a picture of how the kindom is observable in theological, attitudinal, and ethical terms, here Jesus instructs his disciples on actions and behaviors they will need to take in order to realize the kindom in tangible and immediate ways. Of course, action is ethical, a principle consistently discerned throughout Matthew’s account.

The ethics of this gospel is not an ethics of principles to be implemented, but an ethics of response to the presence of God and Christ in my/our history. It is the promise “God with us” that is fulfilled not only in the birth narrative, but also in all of chapter 2—including the death of the innocents—in the middle of the Gospel (chapter 18), and in victorious and permanent form in the last speech (chapter 28). The death of Jesus means victory for the little ones, to whom the Lord, God and Jesus, gives full hope, by being present in the midst of the community.
Alejandro Duarte

For Matthew, the reign of God is a promise and hope rooted in reality and substance. It’s not hypothetical or theoretical. Jesus proclaims the kindom in word and deed. His teaching, as noted in the Sermon on the Mount, presents the possibilities of the kindom. The demonstrations, particularly found in the ministry of the healing miracles, confirm his teaching.

There follows a transitional summary. “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness” (9:35). This is almost verbatim from 4:23 and shows that this section is a literary unit. Jesus’ authority as a teacher is established in chapters 5–7 with the Sermon on the Mount. His authority as a healer is demonstrated in the healings in chapters 8–9.
Anna Case Winters

This part of the gospel begins the transition from the ministry of Jesus to the expansive ministry in which Jesus empowers, equips, and commissions disciples. The Son of David has many distinctions as a leader from his ancestor. Unlike David, who achieved stature as a singular leader who transferred his authority to one heir, Jesus would delegate his power to increase the kindom through multiplication and magnification. The Chosen One will translate to a multitude of disciples. That work begins in earnest here.

Once again, the Creator engages the creature in the creative act. The kindom is possible because of Jesus. At the same time, Jesus invites his followers into discipleship rather than fandom. He treats them as apprentices and sends them off to try their best at emulating his ministry. Accepting his mission will be costly, like soldiers going to war. But, unlike Patton’s army, Jesus’ disciples aren’t taught to hate their enemy; they’re entreated to liberate them. “Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.” (Mt. 10:1)

It’s only one sentence, preceded by the actions of Jesus and followed by the instructions of Jesus. That one sentence tells the story of what the disciples are charged to do and how the kindom is realized. It’s not through overcoming the enemy with power and might; it’s through helping the enemy overcome with compassion and love. Jesus, once again, proves to be countercultural:

Miracle stories were common in the Hellenistic world. That miracles can happen was a part of the mental furniture of that context. What is distinctive about Jesus is not that he works miracles but the meanings attached to the miracles he works and the salvific orientation of the miracles. “Unlike writings of the Hellenistic world generally … the canonical Gospels contain no stories in which miraculous power is used punitively against human beings.” The miracles are always saving/healing acts that demonstrate the mercy and compassion of God as Jesus teaches and enacts it.
Anna Case-Winters

This is the kindom of God. Mercy and compassion dominate where power and might could prevail. The reign of God invites friendship over submission and entreats their forces to retreat rather than destroy. No spoils of victory are taken, rather everything, even the simple comforts, is given up in service of living without the trappings of this world while in pursuit of the divine realm and desired order. In the kindom, enemies are freed, healed, and loved; and the agents of the kindom are commanded, not to fight to the end, but to endure.

May God’s kindom come.

Reflection from Voices of People of African Descent
The 33rd General Synod adopted a Resolution to Recognize the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024). As part of its implementation, Sermon and Weekly Seeds offers Reflection from Voices of People of African Descent related to the season or overall theme for additional consideration in sermon preparation and for individual and congregational study.
But my greatest dismay and my deepest anguish are precipitated by the involvement of the church in the present crisis. My greatest fears are for the organized church in America. I look out on so many Christians and see so little power. The church’s main guilt is not her failure to practice what she preaches. Her guilt I believe is her failure to preach. For preaching involves dramatic confrontation, radical encounter, and urgent proclamation. Preaching (the kerygma) is an assault on every bastion of human pride with the sovereign demands of the gospel. Preaching is confronting culture with Christ.
I say that the church is failing to preach because she is inextricably bound up in the fabric of the state. There exists a dangerous accommodation, and a peaceful coexistence that renders the prophetic voice speechless. Whenever church and state embrace, the church is not free to preach the gospel. And I do not speak of that theoretical or even mechanical separation of church and state which the founders wrote into the Constitution. We have that separation and it should remain. I am not bothered about the possible weakening of that arrangement. I’m troubled by a kind of spiritual union of church and state, a union where both pat one another on the back. I’m troubled about a buddy-buddy relationship, where the church is blind to the sins of the state. I’m troubled about an unholy fellowship of light and darkness.
In a word, there is no clear distinction between the American position and the church’s position on the burning issues of the day. We have a definite duty to pray for those in authority, but we also have a duty to preach to them. Though we reside here and are subject to the laws of the state, our citizenship is in Heaven and we’re under orders from on high. The church should know full well that whenever she ceases to be the critical conscience of society, her sword is made dull and her voice is made silent.
The church should know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christ and Caesar have always been incompatible and will always be so. One of the things which led to the demise of the Jewish church was the coalition between Rome and Jerusalem. The Protestant Reformation was made necessary by the church’s capitulation to culture.
—William Augustus Jones, Jr., God in the Ghetto: A Prophetic Word Revisited

For Further Reflection
“If we only had eyes to see and ears to hear and wits to understand, we would know that the Kingdom of God in the sense of holiness, goodness, beauty is as close as breathing and is crying out to born both within ourselves and within the world; we would know that the Kingdom of God is what we all of us hunger for above all other things even when we don’t know its name or realize that it’s what we’re starving to death for. The Kingdom of God is where our best dreams come from and our truest prayers. We glimpse it at those moments when we find ourselves being better than we are and wiser than we know. We catch sight of it when at some moment of crisis a strength seems to come to us that is greater than our own strength. The Kingdom of God is where we belong. It is home, and whether we realize it or not, I think we are all of us homesick for it.” ― Frederick Buechner
“The kingdom is nearby, adjacent to our own reality, present, yet veiled in the boundaries we avoid, and in the margins we protect ourselves from. So there is no riddle. The eschatological reality is here, yet we feel the urge to evade it, and the lure to ignore it.” ― Vitor Westhelle
“The kingdom of God is a metaphor of transformation into more creative, more conscious, more caring, loving and fulfilling life with the fellow beings.” ― Amit Ray

Works Cited
Case-Winters, Anna. Matthew: A Theological Commentary on the Bible (Belief: a Theological Commentary on the Bible. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015.
Duarte, Alejandro. “Matthew.” Daniel Patte, Ed. Global Bible Commentary. Nashville: Abington Press, 2004.

Suggested Congregational Response to the Reflection
Invite the gathered community to do a spiritual and tangible of their kindom-creating activity.

The Rev. Dr. Cheryl A. Lindsay, Minister for Worship and Theology (, also serves a local church pastor and worship scholar-practitioner with a particular interest in the proclamation of the word in gathered communities. You’re invited to share your reflections on this text in the comments on our Facebook page:

A Bible study version of this reflection is at Weekly Seeds.

Lectionary Texts
Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7) and Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 • Exodus 19:2-8a and Psalm 100 • Romans 5:1-8 • Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23)

Find the full text here: