“What is the Kingdom of Heaven?” : The Moderator’s Message

By Sonia Bodi, Evanston First Presbyterian Church
2015 Moderator of the Presbytery of Chicago

Sonia Bodi headshot When I selected the 2015 Moderator’s theme, the Exhibition of Heaven to the World, I thought it complemented well the 2014 Moderator’s theme, the Proclamation of the Gospel to the World.

The term, “kingdom” is familiar to us: Thy kingdom come, seek first the kingdom of God, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Yet, when I started researching the meaning of the kingdom, I realized it’s a much more complicated concept than I realized. For example, some denominations believe the kingdom is to come and is not present now, some scholars believe the kingdom is the church, while others believe the kingdom is to be experienced, not defined. Jesus teaches us what the kingdom is like through parables: a mustard seed, a field of wheat and weeds, a hidden treasure. I then wondered what Presbyterians think about the kingdom, and most helpful to me was Darrell Gruder’s short book, Exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the World, part of a series based on the six Great Ends of the Church. The meaning of the kingdom (if we can define it) is complex, but simply put, exhibition of the kingdom is one of the central purposes of the Church as we live out the gospel under the lordship of Christ, and demonstrate God’s sovereignty, goodness, and love in our local community and to the larger world.

As we explore this theme of the kingdom, various pastors will preach during our 2015 Presbytery Assemblies about what the kingdom of heaven looks like in their church. The Rev. Barbara Cathey, Chicago Edgewater, will preach from Matthew 4:23-5:11, “Between Two Worlds,” on April 18.

Though we understand much about the kingdom and our responsibility as individuals and church to exhibit it to the world, the kingdom remains somewhat of a mystery. I look forward to exploring it with you more this year.

This article was originally published on page 3 of the April 2015 Our Common Ministry, the presbytery’s newsletter. Download the complete issue.

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