I am a wanderer. I would say that I am a seeker, but sometimes I have no idea what I might be seeking, so I will stick with wanderer. This blog is more a public journal than anything. I don't claim to have life figured out. I simply stumble from mystery to mystery, and share my reflections along the way. Sometimes I feel burdened, and trudge. Sometimes? Well sometimes grace breaks through, and its time to dance.
Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!
Arthur Darby Nock
Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; And only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Building the Kingdom of God, now!
Advent is about the arrival of God into history
An arrival thousands of years ago
And about an arrival yet to come.
It is about God arriving and dramatically setting right a
world gone wrong.
We have the clear message in so many biblical passages, that the way things currently are will not
do. That what is must give way to
something else. Stories from the
prophets, Jesus, and even the people like Paul and Pete all insist, that all is not right in our
societies and that something has to change, radically. The transformation anticipated is a
monumental and all-encompassing upheaval.
New heaven and a new earth!
But, are all these passages “future talk” ?
Is all of this talk about the coming of the Christ, and the
coming of the Kingdom of God simply a matter of something that will happen in
the future, and take us, essential, out of this world?
Let’s think about this new age
And about the Biblical images of this new age.
First, these powerful images are all about transformation.
Think about Isaiah (40),
and that rough ground becoming level,
about old wine becoming new wine, swords being made into pruning
hooks. Think about injustice giving way
to justice, and greed giving way to generosity
The new age is about radical change, about what is not
working, being made right
We are told that at some point God is going to say “enough”
to anything that threatens the peace (shalom) – that hinders what God intends
for the world….The time will come when those things will go away. Not only will the bad things go away, but the
new, good, peaceful things, will become the norm.
But here is the second thing
it is important to notice. For
Jesus, and the people who followed him, the Kingdom, the new life, was going to
be HERE. They did not talk about a
future life somewhere else, in a mystical place called heaven with gold streets
and harps and robes… they anticipated a future where THIS world would be
restored, renewed, redeemed - and there would be shalom on earth
This leads to the third thing we need to notice. Not only is the Kingdom coming, it is near,
it is emerging now, and God’s people are called to be engaged in the process of
pulling that future into the present - the Kingdom of God into the Kingdom of
Remember the rich young ruler, who asked how he could
participate in the age to come? Jesus
told him. “Sell all you have and give to
the poor!” Jesus took the question about
life then, and made it about the kind of life the man was living now. In short he dragged the future into the
Jesus often uses the phrase the Kingdom of Heaven. But the reality is that Jesus, who as a Jew
would not say the same of God, was probably substituting heaven for God. So he was really talking about the Kingdom of
God. And what Jesus tells us is that the time will come when earth and heaven…
when the Kingdom of Earth and the Kingdom of God, will be in the same place…
will be the same thing. They will be
People, this impacts how we live!!! For many people faith is fire insurance. They have faith and do what they so when they
die and go to the other place it will be OK.
But there is a problem with this.
Rob Bell says it this way, “If we think only of that heaven, up there
out there some place. That other place…
if we believe that we are going to leave and evacuate to somewhere else, then
why do anything about this world?”
This is why there is a dearth of social concern among many
Christians. They are focused on someplace else, and have functionally abandoned
this world. What they do in this world
is only for the purpose of getting them to that someplace else.
This does not make Christians great citizens of the
world. Oh they get excited about a few
pet issues. But to a great degree many
of the great social and economic ills are simply not on the radar screen. Spirituality is all about the soul, and that
other place where the soul goes.
But if Jesus really means what he says, than taking heaven,
and the age to come, seriously means taking this world seriously. Because we
have to believe that God has not abandoned human history, but is actively at
work in it, and at some point is going to transform it - then we don’t do what we do for the sake of
heaven, for the sake our sure arrival at another place. We do what we do, as God’s people for the
sake of the Kingdom, which is also here…. In this world.
Think about it this way.
Around a billion people in the world today do not have access to clean
water. People will have access to clean
water in the age to come, so working for clean water access for all now is
working toward the age to come.
Again, our job as Christians is to drag the future into the
present.” It is trying, as we can, to
bring heaving to earth right now. A very
biblical concept. Remember that thing
called the Lord’s Prayer, which we pray every Sunday? What do we say….every week? Your will be done “on earth as it is in
You can’t talk heaven and neglect earth. You can’t focus on the earth and lose sight
of heaven… they go together. I really
like this phrase from one author. Our
eschatology shapes our ethics.
Eschatology is about last things.
Ethics are about how we live. Our
eschatology, our view that heaven and earth will become one, should instruct
how we behave in this world now.
So, we are to pursue the life of heaven now, anticipating
the day, when earth and heaven are one.
Here is a list Bell comes up with of things that belong in
the kingdom. That reflect kingdom
Making a home
Tending a garden.
These are all sacred tasks now to be done now because they
will all be part of the kingdom to come!!
Hording resources, while allowing others to go hungry our
without medical care
Ignoring the vulnerable…
None of these are OK if we are living in anticipation of a
coming day when things are on earth as they are in heaven…So we should be
working to make them go away.
That is why I am sad when I think about the 1% and the .1%
who control and horde so much of our wealth.
That is not kingdom living. That
won’t be in the kingdom.
But I am joyful
I am hopeful
When I think of all of you who are working, and
living, in anticipation of a coming day when things are on earth as they are in
I am hopeful, when I think of the things happening in Lostine, Oregon
The community garden
The community kitchen
Of sewing rooms
And the wellness program
I am hopeful when I see people working to raise money for
And giving money to the poor
When I see wood being cut, split and delivered
I am hopeful when people are giving,
When people have mercy on the wounded
And seek to help the vulnerable….
Because in this way we celebrate advent every day of our