Mark 12: 30 & 31
You Don’t have to be a saint to be a Kingdom Builder
In my novel, Baggage burdens. people in a rural orthodox community hear that Jill and Joseph are expecting their first child. What follows is expressions of love and support, a heavenly kingdom moment.
Congratulations abound. Jill feels like she’s front-page news. The pastor seeks her out to give his blessings. The only other time he made a point of talking to her was when she first attended church after marrying Joseph.
Community advice for Jill pours in. “Be sure you get enough rest.” “Eat well.” “You don’t drink, do you? Excellent.” “It’s good neither of you smoke. You’ll have a healthy baby.” “Be sure to register for our prenatal classes.”
“It’s like having a crash course from a dozen instructors,” says Jill. For the first time, she feels accepted, even popular.
The many offers of support draw Jill and Joseph closer to the community. “If you need a crib …” “I have a playpen, which you can have.” “We don’t need our car seat any longer …” Different items of clothes, some new and some hardly used, promise to limit future baby care expenses.
To be expected of a church going people you might think. True, but that is not what Jill would have expected or even hoped for. When she and Joseph were introduced to the church which Joseph attended, Jill felt like she was reluctantly accepted.
As they drive home from the service, Joseph asks, “So, what do you think about the service?”
Jill pauses and chooses her words carefully. “It was different.”
When her friends, Mary and Ann, brought her to their church, Mary introduced her to three couples. They all showed an interest in her. She still remembers their names.
At the end of the service, the priest pointed out the newly married couple and told the members to welcome them.
Jill interpreted the priest’s words as instructions, much like the morning message, a legalistic direction on how to live right.
Father Gordon Hontsburg escorted the married couple to the entrance, welcomed Jill to the flock, and moved on. Other members followed his example.
“Something’s bothering you,” persists Joseph, glancing at Jill. “You’re not as relaxed as you were earlier this morning.”
Jill squirms. There’s so much she feels like saying, but she doesn’t want to appear negative.
How can I tell him I feel the people’s welcome is superficial? The moment the individuals delivered their congratulations, they clustered in their own little groups and talked about their families. No one stayed to talk to me.
Hospitality was not a strength of this rural orthodox community at the time Jill joined their church. New people were a threat. They brought new ideas, change. This rural people wanted no changes. They were happy with their present lifestyle. Their thoughts were of themselves not the stranger in their midst, not the mindset of a kingdom builder.
In looking for kingdom builders, it is good to remember that anyone can provided a warm accepting environment for others at any time. They are like the stars in the night sky. At times they are shing brightly and other times not. Only the vigilant who constantly look for kingdom builders will see them, or if they are interested hear about them.
Do you have a story about a caring act done by a person that was not expected to do an act kindness? Feel free to share it.