Tuesday, November 28, 2006

First Sunday of Advent: The Reign of God is Near

In preparation for the first Sunday of Advent, I have begun reflecting on the Luke text for this week.

Luke 21:25-3
"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. "Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

It is important to ask what is “right” about this text. There is much in it that we think we absolutely can’t relate to. Most of us don’t think that Jesus/the Son of Man will come in a cloud. In fact, we would do well to fight that kind of expectation as it can interfere with our here and now justice work. We would do well to focus on the signs in the homeless people, jobless people, lonely people, oppressed people as signs of “distress” in our world. If we really were aware of the suffering in say, Darfur, if each of us could see it with our own eyes, if we could feel it in our bodies, if it was the truth our hands have handled (1John) we would, indeed, “faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world."

If we could see those signs, we would long, yearn, thirst for Jesus the Christ of God to come with a cloud and with power and with great glory. We would ache for redemption.

But we don’t see it. Many of us, if not most of us, don’t want to see it. I predict some in the pulpit this Sunday ignoring this reading, or spending fifteen minutes demythologizing it without asking, “What is ‘right’ about this text?”

What is right about this text for me this day is the good news of the “nearness” of the reign of God. How is it that the reign of God’s love and justice is near in the midst of what I have just described?

My answer is that the reign of God is as near as the dissonance you feel between the scriptural assurance that in Jesus the Christ God’s reign has broken into our world, and the brokenness of the world. In that dissonance is the nearness of heaven.

We often talk about the reign of God, God’s “kingdom” in David Tracy’s terms, the “always already” and the “not yet.” Near.

What would happen if we lived as if we yearned for the good news in this text instead of clothing ourselves in the armor of intellectual self sufficiency? What if, this Advent, our hearts were open and we moved a little closer to practicing the justice we know this world requires? What if we just decided to not be weighed down with the worries of life, drunk on consumerism, and felt the hope of God's Reign?

Friday, November 24, 2006

working out my own salvation in fear and trembling

Been a while since I've logged a blog. I guess I've been trying to integrate the experience of the last year. Oh, and I have been in the search and call process. How fun is that? Not fun. The social climate for "out" lesbian and gay persons is not the greatest right now. In my denomination, there are churches that would rather leave than acknowledge that I am a child of God, whole and holy. That makes things tough. Time for a little prophetic witness, eh?

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