I have an uncle I never met. My mother has a brother she never met. His name was Bruce. Bruce Alexander. I visited his grave in the Nooksack Cemetery probably 10 years ago, almost certainly one of the few people to visit in the past 50 years! I have a napkin ring that bears his name. My mother has a few photographs of him as a young man. We actually have a photograph of his mother in our new display cabinet ~ take a look at the bottom left corner, the photo with Elder Carmen seated with his wife Emma and a child. That baby is Ethyl Carmen, who later married Artie Alexander. They had one child named Bruce. Bruce, never married, no children, died in a mining accident as a young man. After Artie died, Ethyl then married Alvin Lobb when I was about three years old, my grandfather. That makes Bruce my mother's step-brother, my step-uncle. Few of you have ever heard of Bruce. Few of you will even remember Bruce this afternoon. Few of you will go on to other thoughts even the second half of this sermon. I'll probably wander over and see his grave a few more times in my lifetime. Maybe not. I doubt if anyone else will.
Memories fade. The person that knows the most about graves and cemeteries that I know is Rod Perry. Rod tells me that studies have shown that after 40 years after a person dies few people remember their story. Just a name on a grave, a genealogical list in a family archive, but who they were, what they did, their personality. In the past five years in our community there have been an abundance of early deaths of young adults and teenagers. It's sad. I've been to many of those funerals and what do I hear: “we'll remember you forever.” “you'll always be in our hearts.” And the sentiments are real and wonderful and important. The feelings of affection last the first generation. Then they are gone. The same thing will happen to my memory and your memory.
Nothing. On this earth. Is. Forever.
Compare what is said of Jesus Christ.... “His. Kingdom. Will. Never. End.” An angel, out of the blue, visits a young teenage girl in a remote insignificant corner of the Roman Empire and makes a most startling series of announcements: You will conceive a child by the Holy Spirit, you will name him Jesus, he will be great, he will be call the son of the most high, he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, his kingdom will never end.”
Think of it. Heb. 12:2 says God is going to establish “a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” Everything that is of this world is shakable. We would have more photographs in our display cabinet, but a flood got into my parents basement in 1989 and 90. The stuff that is gone. Our world crumbles. Our cars wear out. Our homes fall into disrepair. Our stories fade. Our bodies wear out. But the kingdom of God lasts forever.
You have a choice: you can live for this world. Or you can live for the Kingdom of God. God establishes in Jesus a kingdom that will last into eternity. That kingdom will be made up of men and women who have decided to live by God’s eternal values. It's kind of interesting. When the angel first announced to Mary the list of astounding events about to happen, the list was so overwhelming, Mary only asked about having a baby: “How will this be, since I am a virgin,” Mary asks. Mary's world is shaken. Who can blame her for not getting her mind around the rest of the world changing pronouncements? But we can ask.... An everlasting Kingdom? How can this be, since I am a sinner that deserves nothing?
Only God's Kingdom will last forever. Everything else will fade. Mary cannot get past the idea of being supernaturally pregnant.... The answer to the promise about an everlasting kingdom unfolds in the rest of the book of Luke as we find out who Jesus is and what he came to do. The problem began back in the Old Testament, in Genesis, with creation. We need to try and see History from God's point of view. Truly History is. His. Story. The Story of God intersecting with our story of sinners who rejected God and how God never gave up on us, loved us beyond measure, cares for us, sent his Son Jesus Christ as a baby, born of the virgin Mary, lived a perfect life, died, rose again, ascended to the Father and is coming again to establish his Kingdom forever. This is His Story. The only way to find ultimate meaning is to abandon our own ideas of making a name for ourselves, building our own kingdom that will mean something, and to accept the invitation to live as a member of the Kingdom of God. You can live for this world or you can live for the kingdom of God.
All earthly kingdom's will be shaken. The Kingdom of God lasts forever. No longer live for yourself, your reputation, but join forces with Jesus Christ, and follow him as your Savior and Lord. Jesus wants to include you in His Story. Amen.