Three Kingdoms, One Message

This weekend while you were contemplating the devil offering Jesus the kingdoms of the world (Luke 4:1-13), I was contemplating the Magic Kingdom and its companion Animal Kingdom. It was quite a contrast to the year I started Lent at Mepkin Abbey. That year was much more somber and reflective; this year busy and happy.

On Saturday we went to the pools and as I was settling in near a hot tub 4 college guys stepped into it. One said, with a big exhale, “Ah, this is what I needed.” His friend replied, “What are you talking about?” He said, “You know I came down here to be depressed, but at least I’m now relaxed in my depression.” To which his friend replied, “You can’t be depressed in the happiest place on earth.” I thought, “Tell that to the number of men wearing t-shirts around Disney that read, ‘Most expensive day ever.’” Our family didn’t go there to be depressed or to get over depression; we went to be together, away. And while there are certainly more relaxing places to be, the space and time helped us say, “Ah, this is what we needed.” I’m sure the Lent that began at Mepkin Abbey began with a holier start, but this one began with a reminder that no kingdom of this world – magical, animal, or political – is ours for the taking. They’re all shared and to be tended to in common. Part of the pleasure (and a lot of the challenge) of Disney is the crowds of people from all walks of life. Part of the lesson of the animal kingdom is that we need those animals (including the bugs!) to help this world thrive and we are called to care well for creation. Part of what that college student needed to help him through whatever it was he had on his mind was 3 friends listening, joking, and sharing life with him.

The devil offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world, if Jesus would worship him. All the devil wanted was everything to be about the devil. Jesus recognized (and lived) that life is never all about anyone, especially the devil. When you know the God who chose to be triune – 3-in-1 – you know the God who calls you into community. What we need is a relationship with God and the family of faith devoted to him, participation in the kingdom of God, wherever we find ourselves.