Printed first in the First Trinity Newsletter, Summer 2015
|taken on a monday ride, june 2015|
The Kingdom of God is at hand. It’s nearby. It’s so close you could touch it (Mark 1:15).
With these words Jesus, John the Baptist, and those who gathered around them proclaimed and hoped.
Feeding thousands, curing diseases, stilling storms, transgressing rules and laws and norms that somehow imply that she or he or they or those were somehow outside of that hope, immune to the longing, away from the promise and nearness of God—such were the works of the proclamation of Nearness, a proclamation of word and deed and living flesh. Such were the events of Jesus’ life, itself a foretaste of the feast, an anticipation of something more, something hoped for but hard to name, the Great Banquet, the Glorious Day, the Fulfillment of All Things, the Resurrection of the Body, the Life of the World, the Kingdom of God… At hand, near by, so close you could touch it…
For “the Kingdom of God,” we still pray. Perhaps daily. Perhaps multiple times per day. At least once per week we pray this prayer of hope, of desire, of longing, of love, that we call “The Lord’s.” We pray it together. Our church-bells toll as we pray. They reverberate through the neighborhood summoning those homebound and others unable physically to be present in the sanctuary at the meal, to pray with us: Thy kingdom come… Thy will be done… On earth… We pray together. Together we long. We hope. We pray.
And though immediately, post-prayer, we who gather touch, eat, commune, and feed the multitude gathered, large or small, all signs of Christ’s promised presence though bread and wine and community and Word; though we touch and feel and hear and smell in the meal and in each person gathered the presence of the living God and the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom so-close-you-can-touch-it; we only ever claim a fore-taste, a glimmer, the beginning of a hope, a presence but not the parousia, a foretaste but not a fulfillment. We tasted, but we’re not full. Instead, this meal seems to have made us even hungrier. The satisfaction of our longing gives birth to an even greater desire: The Kingdom. Thy kingdom come.
Gathered in the presence of God, we gather in longing anticipation. We gather in God’s presence and together, for God’s presence we long; yearning for something more, a better-healed world, a place and time where all are fed not as a miracle but as an every day reality, a world where healing is unnecessary as there is no disease, decay, death, poverty, depression, persecution, inequality, loneliness, absence… Thy Kingdom come… On earth… Please… O God… It is thine…
In this longing so many of us are drawn together, into the presence of Christ in one another, and the presence of Christ in the meal, in the Word—an experience that both quenches us and makes us thirsty, an experience that brings us to pray for the grace to continue to hope for God’s Kingdom, and the courage to flesh it out as best we can as we hope, to live its values, where the last are first (Matt 20:16) and the weak become strong (2 Cor 12:10), where blessed are the poor and the poor in spirit (Luke 6:20, Matt 5:3), where “God is Love and those who abide in Love abide in God (1 John 4:16).” So, toward Love we work. In Love we seek to dwell and to live. In Love we pray, we hope, we gather, we long. And we yearn that Love might be made complete and that the promise of Love might be fulfilled. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done. Please.
What a thing to bring us together: hope! What a fragile bond to share. Hope!—that we find the fulfillment of our longings in Christ’s presence here, among us. Hope!—that by grace, we may live in Love, even as we yet live by hope for Love. Hope!—that we may find a deep and enduring hunger for the Presence that is at hand, near by, so close you can touch it.