I have been thinking a lot, lately about a text in Luke 10 in which Jesus sends seventy disciples out into the towns and places he intends to go. He instructs them to take nothing with them and to rely on the hospitality of others. He instructs them both to announce, “Peace to this house,” and to announce that “the kingdom of God has come near.” I have been pondering how these two announcements are related. Peace (by biblical definition) is more than an easy, relaxed feeling – it is a state of completeness or wholeness, a state of total well-being. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of completeness and wholeness – of total well being – us with God and God fully and completely with us and the whole of creation. And this kingdom is here – it is already among us but not yet fully complete.
As those who are living in and yet still praying for God’s kingdom to come among us now and in full, I wonder how we announce that right here and now in September of 2020? I read something from Richard Rohr this week that was profoundly meaningful to me. It is long, but I wanted to share it as a reflection and an invitation:
“We are without doubt in an apocalyptic time (the Latin word apocalypsis refers to an urgent unveiling of an ultimate state of affairs). Yeats’ oft-quoted poem “The Second Coming” then feels like a direct prophecy. See if you do not agree:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Somehow our occupation and vocation as believers in this sad time must be to first restore the Divine Center by holding it and fully occupying it ourselves. If contemplation means anything, it means that we can “safeguard that little piece of You, God,” as Etty Hillesum describes it. What other power do we have now? All else is tearing us apart, inside and out, no matter who wins the election or who is on the Supreme Court. We cannot abide in such a place for any length of time or it will become our prison.
God cannot abide with us in a place of fear.
God cannot abide with us in a place of ill will or hatred.
God cannot abide with us inside a nonstop volley of claim and counterclaim.
God cannot abide with us in an endless flow of online punditry and analysis.
God cannot speak inside of so much angry noise and conscious deceit.
God cannot be found when all sides are so far from “the Falconer.”
God cannot be born except in a womb of Love.So offer God that womb.”
Rohr invites us into a certain posture, and I think this posture is one that invites “your kingdom come.” Rohr continues: “If you will allow, I recommend for your spiritual practice for the next four months that you impose a moratorium on exactly how much news you are subject to—hopefully not more than an hour a day of television, social media, internet news, magazine and newspaper commentary, and/or political discussions. It will only tear you apart and pull you into the dualistic world of opinion and counter-opinion, not Divine Truth, which is always found in a bigger place. Instead, I suggest that you use this time for some form of public service, volunteerism, mystical reading from the masters, prayer—or, preferably, all of the above. You have much to gain now and nothing to lose. Nothing at all. And the world—with you as a stable center—has nothing to lose. And everything to gain.”