Moses Merrill Camp and Conference Center. It was the perfect weekend; great weather, good friends, and a great theme to focus our attention. The theme was "The Kingdom of God."
The Hunger Games movie based on the best selling trilogy of the same name by Suzanne Collins. Nearly two thirds of the students at this retreat had read The Hunger Games books. During my time to speak I decided to walk the students through the Gospel of Matthew and see all the ways that the writer see's Jesus ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthews phrase for Kingdom of God) and use the Hunger Games trilogy to make comparisons of how different Kingdom living is from life in Panem.
As I currently understand it, the Kingdom of Heaven is the reality of what God intended things to be from the very beginning. In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth, twin halves of God's created reality, designed to eventually be united (thank you NT Wright for this image). Sin and death have kept these two realities apart, so the Creator God came as Christ to defeat death and allow Gods will to be done "on Earth as it is in Heaven." Matthew is full of images of what this Kingdom living looks like...sick people are healed, hungry people are fed, the spiritually empty are filled, the blind see, the lame walk, broken relationships are mended, and the dead are brought to life.
The Hunger Games trilogy ends with an uprising that leads to the fall of an oppressive regime. However, to accomplish their goals it cost the lives of many innocent people. In the end people are still broken, lives are shattered, many are still hungry, and the dead remained buried. Thanks be to God that in moments when we share in Resurrected living, when we are participating in the present Kingdom of Heaven by feeding, healing, clothing, sheltering, and mending others that we are in that moment living in the Kingdom. See the Kingdom of Heaven is not some place we go when we die, the real Kingdom of Heaven is here, now among us like interlocking fingers. And we have the hope that someday somehow, the two worlds will be one as seen in Revelation 21-22, without any separation. That is the true Christian hope. May it be so.