Monday, February 9, 2015

The Emerging Kingdom of God or Bringers of the Light

This post emerges from a message I delivered as a discussion at Tapestry Ministries in Berkeley, CA.  

I believe that each of us carries a light within which is meant to be cultivated.  It exists in an intimate and sacred space where the holy resides.  This post emerges from this point, that we, you and I are bringers of the light.  That said, we are the Emerging Kingdom of God.  We move from this life point.  We are meant to take the kingdom of God to people, to provide them with an alternative and different imagination to the life they live now.   That said, there is a dire need to break the silence, to erode the staid oppressions that hold up the pain and oppression which characterize so much of life in America.  As bringers of the light, similar to Martin Luther King, Jr., we are the Kingdom of God, we are breaking the silence.  I have included Dr. King's Breaking the Silence Speech given at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4th 1967.   Go now beloved and break the silence and receive your liberation.

And so..............

Living life in the Emerging Kingdom of God calls each of us to a sacred act of thanksgiving, to be thankful and hopeful as we walk arm in arm with our sister and brother in the all pervading presence of an everlasting sovereign God among people whose hope may not be in the everlasting God, but in the tangible, temporal, simplistic and the more immediate.  Unlike those whose hope is in the tangible, our hope is in the eternal God of Jesus of Nazareth, the beloved son.  We believe and know that God’s love never fails; it never runs out on us!    In the midst of the tangible we hold fast to God’s abundant love and mercy with the gospel which strengthens us in the midst of racism, sexism, gender injustice, the prison industrial complex, homophobia, transphobia, unemployment, discrimination, violence, and the many unspoken oppressions encountered each day.   Mindful of the Cross we cry out to God for hope and comfort saying, “Be mindful of your people and strengthen your people once again most gracious God.”  In the midst the spirit of God reminds us of a great love that has called us to this journey with its many complexities with God and community as our partners.
On this journey we are blessed to experience the embodiment of God in prayer, community, in communion and through sacred activism.  Attending the homegoing service of friend and colleague, Rev. Mariasen A. Barnes, this past week, I was reminded of the communal character of God, that sacred space where heaven, earth and the cosmos come together, even if for a moment, to unveil the love of God.   Similar to birth, which is considered a time of entering the earth realm from the holy, death is a returning to the holy, necessarily unveiling the love and passion of God in the midst of those gathered.   Times and spaces of birth and death are sacred, they are where God has our undivided attention.  They are where we can experience God, if we are conscious, in the real as we fall on our knees at the incomprehensible love and grace fully present.  Moments such as these cause me to realize that life is an abundant gift, it is God’s way of sharing an incomprehensible love.
Having received this incomprehensible love how then shall anyone not preach the gospel?  I believe that the Apostle Paul, with his strengths and weaknesses, received this message of grace although not in its fullness, and was comforted as he lived out his call among the people of his time.   It is this great love which compels and comforts us as we preach the gospel with our lives among the skeptic, the lukewarm and those who have lost their hope in God, Jesus, his Cross, and the Church.  Beloved Disciples of Christ be not discouraged but be ever so mindful (pause) that the present human condition is not new; it is as old as humanity itself.   Today, in the beginning years of the 21st century, many people have embraced ideas of a tangible practical god, a simplistic god, even a visible god of economy which responds to the ego, the flesh and the mind, which bestows a false rest, and a false hope, abusing the soul and enslaving the heart resulting, for some, in death by suicide.    

I am mindful of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech A Time to Break the Silence given at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4th 1967 where he takes the U.S. government to task for its allegiants to capitalism and its embrace of militarism in the name of empire.   He calls for a revolution of values, values which reflect the love of God.  I suspect that he had experienced, like Paul, the incomprehensible love God which overcame a world made insensitive to God’s love for the sake of flesh and profit.   It was this greater gift of love which moved him to express God’s passion and care for the oppressed.  For me his words ring noble, true and timely as today we are bombarded through various media by modes of deception, consumption, and a faith of works grounded in capitalism, globalization and militarism.

Similar to the Apostle Paul, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the enslaved African, inclusive of those who traversed the inhumanity of the middle passage, yet never lost hope that their descendants would know freedom, today we press on like Harriet Tubman, Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, the immigrants of today, and people of an uncommon faith in the midst of empire and the oppressions which maintain and uphold its supremacy with our eyes lifted up to the everlasting and sovereign God.    

Our sure and confident hope and comfort in the everlasting God is nourishment for our souls as the Emergence of the Kingdom of God intrudes and begins to erode the staid sensibilities of empire and its systems of the practical, normal, privilege, and the supremacy of inequality which shape and contour life here in America.  This intrusion, similar to the Cross of Jesus of Nazareth is complex and fearful, and not always understood yet embodying the desire of God for a beloved humanity.