While on vacation, one of the churches we visited is one where they have worked very conscientiously to make the language of their liturgy gender-inclusive. One of the consistent challenges to such efforts is how to make “kingdom of God” gender-neutral.
In this particular congregation, they substitute “kin-dom” for “kingdom.” It is an approach I haven’t encountered before. While the jury is still out, it does help us think of the kingdom of God in a slightly different way. Usually, we think mainly in terms of God’s reign in our lives. Kin-dom causes us to focus more on the relational dimension of life in God.
When we are brought into God’s realm and made citizens of it in Baptism, we are related or “kin” to everyone else in that extended family, past, present, and future, just as we are “kin” to God who is the Source of life, Ground of Being, and eternal Head of the family. We are “one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world." There is a familial relationship and a familial responsibility that goes with it.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer called the kingdom of God “The Beloved Community.” In so doing, he too emphasized the relational nature of life in God. God’s steadfast love and faithfulness binds us to God and to one another with ties that are stronger even than the ties that bind us to our human families. As we are beloved of God, we live in love with one another.
How are we doing? Does our kinship with one another reflect our kinship with God? When strangers come among us, can they sense a quality and a character that is divine in origin? Do our kinfolk know how much we care, how generous our commitment is, and how completely they can count on us? Can you think of some signs of God’s life that can be seen in the kinship we share?
We probably will not adopt “kin-dom” of God in our liturgical gatherings. However, I am grateful to have encountered the term along the way. Soon, we will celebrate Rally Day, a kind of annual God’s family reunion at the end of the summer vacation season. As we prepare for that reunion, let us take some time to reflect upon how we are kin to one another, to those who have gone before us, and to those who will come after us. And let each one of us make a renewed commitment to full participation in the life and mission to which God calls this particular branch of the family tree!