We've been on the lake for almost a week, and tonight a summer storm has rolled in, a welcome excuse to stay inside and cook a warm meal. We have a perfect view of lake Minnetonka from the large bay windows of this rental house, as well as the sprawling green lawn separating the house from the dock.
There's a knock on the door, followed by hugs in the entryway. Jack, age 3, and Jane, age 5, are quick to find the box of toys in the living room as the grown ups gather in the kitchen, exchanging how are yous, and asking if there is anything they can do to help prepare the meal.
Soon the food is ready and we gather to pray, and while my Pops gives thanks, I feel my throat tighten and my eyes well up with tears. All I can think of is how Jesus told stories that started with, "The Kingdom of God is like," and how tonight the Kingdom of God is like this gathering of people.
I often pray that the Kingdom of God, in all of it's beauty, peace, and restorative power, would enter the world through my life, through my loved ones lives, and the church's life, but more often than not, it comes when I am not looking or working for it. More often than not I don't find it--it finds me, knocking me over with its presence with the force of a tidal wave.
To my right is my brother, 10 years my senior, my father's biological son, the product of a teenage pregnancy that led to the heart-wrenching, but ultimately best decision--to give him the life he deserved through adoption. The man whose baby picture my father has carried in his wallet for thirty plus years, who I am now coming to know not only as a brother, but as my friend.
To my left are his parents, his wonderful, wonderful parents, as well as his sister, who, instead of fearing or resenting our presence, have welcomed us into their lives with warm embraces and shared meals.
Wiggling through out the prayer are his children, flanked on one side by their mother, and on the other, her parents. They are all important characters in this story, offering their love, time, and support.
If the Kingdom of God is a place where the lost are found, the broken are made whole, and unexpected friendships arise out of places that once only held pain, then the Kingdom of God is here tonight.
The Kingdom is alive in this gathering of love.
I'd be lying if I said there weren't parts of this equation that make all of us nervous, but those things pale in comparison to the miracle happening in this lake house during a summer storm.
There are no blueprints for what this is supposed to look like, and we have surely made mistakes on the journey here. And we will make them on the journey to wherever we are going.
But this much is for sure; we will continue to gather on the shores of Lake Minnetonka over warm meals and children's laughter, and the Kingdom of God will find us there.