Last weekend at Gateway we successfully launched our second worship service. On top of that we rolled out a brand new stage design, child check-in process, connection table and newcomer assimilation process. Needless to say, it was a busy week. In fact this week I felt a lot like I did two years ago after our very first worship service. Tired and happy. But all of our hard work paid off. We had over 230 people in attendance with dozens of first-time visitors. I am so proud of our staff, our ministry teams and our entire church. God is really doing something remarkable in downtown Des Moines.
This Sunday we are beginning a new sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Nowhere does Jesus talk more clearly about what it looks like to follow him than in the Sermon on the Mount. It's a provocative and counter-intuitive announcement about what happens when God shows up: The poor, the meek, and those who mourn are called blessed. Enemies are loved, the poor are cared for God's will is done on earth.
Jesus is announcing that God is showing up! That the life of heaven, which had seemed so distant and unreal, is in the process of coming true on earth. These are not rules that need to be obeyed in order to be rewarded. Things to avoid if you want to make it to heaven. This is an announcement about an entirely new state of affairs, a new reality which is in the process of bursting into the world.
The sermon is a radical call to action. It sets forth a revolutionary new way of life. We are told to 'turn the other cheek' to 'love our enemies' and to 'invest our treasure in heaven.' But all of these demands are ultimately a summons - beckoning us to experience His kingdom, to live under its values, right now in the present. Come and listen! The kingdom of God is here.