Musings on the Kingdom (Lenora Rand)

This Blog post is a repost from Red Letter Christians written by Lenora Rand.

Lenora’s blog, Spiritual Suckitude, is about figuring out how to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God, while working in corporate America and trying to get the laundry done. She is also co-founder of The Plural Guild. Check out her earthy, soulful writing and enjoy this short piece below.

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 18:3)

Lenora writes:

“I used to have a sort of idealized Disney-version of kids in my head. Then I had some. And I noticed that in their natural state, before us adults manage to fully “civilize” them, kids are crazy with questions, needy and rambunctious, don’t easily take “No” for an answer, feel everything deeply, hate unfairness and aren’t ashamed to yell about it, and basically live every second of every day until they pass out in blessed exhaustion. And if we’re like them, Jesus says, that’s how we enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  That is actually heaven.”

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Going About…Doing Good

“You know…what has happened all over Judea…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy Spirit and power [and Jesus] went about doing good and healing all those oppressed…for God was with him.” (Acts 10:37-38, NAB)

I’ve often realized that sometimes the sacred Scriptures get quite “dull” to me, and I think the reason is that for all the “this and that” over Scripture, it is and will always be a collection of stories about real people of people, and their interactions with each other and with God.

That is why I love the above mentioned Scripture; for it says that the love story of Jesus, and how he lived and what he did, was known all over Judea (so even back then ‘gossip’ and stories were afoot and the norm).

When I think about Jesus, I often forget or deny his humanness (back in the day that was a named heresy with punishment being excommunication and a hot party of one on a burning stake!).

Yes, Jesus was utterly and completely human, and he was filled with the Spirit and power. And what did he do with his Spirit-filled power: he used it to go about doing good and healing all those who were oppressed. Now, how many of us can say if we had “power” that this is what we would do? Be honest…

And when I look around at the self-proclaimed Christians, I am often left wondering and amazed at just how power hungry some God mongerers are. Wouldn’t it be grand if most of “Christendom” and the “true professed followers of Jesus” were known more for going around doing good and healing the oppressed rather than what most of Christians are known for now: gay bashing, gun-toting, reactionary close-mindedness, narcissistic self-help pedagogies promoting earthly riches. The list goes on…

Truly, I sometimes feel that if Jesus were alive today, we’d lock him out of our houses of worship: how dare he hang out with whores, drug addicts, money-launderers, and those people who smell funny and talk to themselves when they walk down the street.

Can you hear it? Just exactly who does this Jesus think he is? How dare him. Well, he’ll mess up my agenda. He’ll mess with my Constitutional Rights! He’ll come across as unpatriotic. He’ll offend the neighbors…

Blah, blah, blah. Damn right Jesus will mess with you! For going around doing good and healing the oppressed got Jesus killed! He did not win some local civic award, or the Nobel Prize, nor did he get 1 million hits on his YouTube viral video or have the most popular Facebook account.

He got strung up on a tree for following the leading of the Spirit and doing good and being with and healing the poor and oppressed. It is vital to remember that in the time of Jesus, much like today, the poor were maligned for being so because it was their fault; they had sinned or committed some heinous error that had caused God to punish and curse them.

Jesus screws all that screwy theology right to hell.

I’d like to be all pious and sanctimonious and say I want to be like Jesus. Well, I do, just without the cross. I do want to be filled with the Spirit and go about doing good and being a source of God’s healing for the oppressed. But I am afraid because those who love God and the poor often times suffer the same fate as the poor.

What will the stories be about me when I die? Will I be known for going about doing good? Will you be known about going around doing good? What legacy am I leaving?

The question is: am I out there going about doing good and healing those who are oppressed?

“Where’s the Proof?” (Kayla McClurg)

Advent Reading for December 15, 2013 ~ Matthew 11:2-11

Sermon by Kayla McClurg, Church of the Saviour, Washington, DC

In prison a person has time to ponder things. My friends who have spent time there say it isn’t surprising that people meet Jesus in prison simply because there is so much time, mindless miles of time, to be still and think. The wise ones use that time to ponder the depths of their lives and to ask questions and invite new answers. John has been put in prison. The authorities have tried to stifle him, but his disciples remain faithful and John remains their teacher. From his cell they carry a key question John has been pondering about Jesus: “Are you the one, or should we be waiting for another?”

Curiously, Jesus doesn’t say. He simply says, “Go and tell John what you hear and see.” Look at the evidence, and come to your own conclusions. The evidence is this: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are standing on the shores of a new life, welcoming a boatload of good news. Is this the proof you were expecting from “the one who is to come,” or another?

You know the question, if you were arrested for following Jesus, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Or would you get off scot free, innocent of having disturbed anyone with the good news? Would you be found guilty of living a converted life, of giving away freely what you have received? Could anyone accuse you of radical expressions of solidarity with the poor? Would the powers tremble at the ripples of your generosity?

John has been arrested for stirring up mercy and healing, for proclaiming another way, for inspiring people to submit to a higher-than-human authority. His imprisonment is meant to intimidate him and his followers—and especially to intimidate Jesus. The powers always resort to such foolishness. In reality, such a response does nothing but add fuel to the fire of the movement. Jesus and a growing band of disciples pick up where John left off. The mantle has been passed, and the momentum builds. The proof is at hand.

By: (Season and Scripture: ,

“Drugged into Submission” (Robert Farrar Capon)

This quote below by Robert Farrar Capon is quite appropoe, and we can allow the word “preacher” to speak for all followers of Jesus.  Stirring the pot…

“I think good preachers should be like bad kids. They ought to be naughty enough to tiptoe up on dozing congregations, steal their bottles of religion pills…and flush them all down the drain.

The Church, by and large, has drugged itself into thinking that proper human behavior is the key to its relationship with God.

What preachers need to do is force it to go cold turkey with nothing but the word of the cross-and then be brave enough to stick around while [the congregation] goes through the inevitable withdrawal symptoms. But preachers can’t be that naughty or brave unless they’re free from their own need for the dope of acceptance. And they won’t be free of their need until they can trust the God who has already accepted them…in Jesus. Ergo, the absolute indispensability of trust in Jesus’ passion. Unless the faith of preachers is in that alone – and not in any other person, ecclesiastical institution, theological system, moral prescription, or master recipe for human loveliness – they will be of very little use in the pulpit.”

Robert Farrar Capon, The Foolishness of Preaching

The Center & the Edge

The closer we get to the Center, the more God takes us to the edges.

The closer we get to our Center (the place where God dwells), the more we are drawn out of our comfort zones into a life of radical love.  The word radical comes from the Latin word ‘radix’ meaning ‘Root’ – so what we are drawn to is a Rooted Love and a Love Rooted in God.

The more we live from the Center, the deeper our roots become.  The deeper our roots become, the more we learn to trust the nature of God and his love.  The more we trust God and his love, the more we long and hunger to experience and share that Divine Love with all, especially those farthest from it.

The Triqueta - an Celtic Cross

The Triqueta – a Celtic Cross

The stronger our roots become, the stronger we become.  But this strength is not a power lording it over others, but the power to serve others deeply without losing or defining ourselves by such service.

That is my passion, that is my Center and my edge – called to the life of God as an earthy monk, a shepherd, a servant leader.  It is a calling as one who leads from within, from the Center, from God.

And the more Centered I become, the more radical my love becomes and the more radical my love becomes, the more I desire to serve the poorest, the despised, the broken – those at the edges of existence.

The closer I get to my Center, the more God takes me to the edge.

And the closer to the edge I get, the more I feel the itch of wings starting to grow and spread…so that leaping off this edge becomes sheer joy rather than fear.

I Dare You…

In matters of faith it may not be ‘biblical’ to do so, but I’m looking in the mirror as I write this realizing I need to dare myself, so I’m going to dare everyone.  And the reason why is that most of the time, the God I profess and the God I actually believe in are two different beings: the former is too small and the latter is sometimes just a God I give lip service to but do not always act like I believe.  I say I believe in Jesus but my actions sometimes betray those ‘beliefs.’  I am human and quite ordinary but God, well, God is Extraordinary.

So it is Double Dog Dare time (and remember the “Mirror Principle” counts here, namely the principle that states I’m really having a conversation with myself and God and you are simply ‘overhearing’ it):

  • I dare you to try and out give God.
  • I dare you to let God’s comforting and disturbing grace turn your life upside-down, and therefore right-side up.
  • I dare you to turn to prayer before turning to worry, fear, or panic.
  • I dare you to let go of every ‘small’ image you have of God and ask him to replace those ‘idols’ with the truth of just who God is.
  • I dare you to believe that emotions, circumstances and feelings do not determine all of what the truth is (but yes, they can help, guide and teach).
  • I dare you take God at his word – all of it.
  • I dare you to ask God to enlarge your ‘territory’ for his purposes.
  • I dare you to ask God to bless you so you can be a Blessing.
  • I dare you to pray ‘big’ for God is big and we can not out give God.
  • I dare you to ask God to use you in wonderful ways for his good pleasure and then make yourself available (and also put your seat belt on).
  • I dare you to pray everyday to be filled with God’s love and then to let him fill you.
  • I dare you to go and give away God’s amazing love, without discretion and with reckless abandon.
  • I dare you to surrender every aspect of your life to God and to truly let it all go…into his faithful, strong, and loving hands.
  • I dare you to dream God’s Dream and then be a part of it.

~ Supporting the Blog ~

My ultimate desire for The Earthy Monk is that it’s a catalyst for our movement towards God so we can all experience God’s love more deeply and grow in our ‘fleshing out’ of this Love in the world.  The Earthy Monk is the work God has given me and my desire is that it nurtures others closer to God and inspires us all to creating a kinder, more compassionate world.

I am asking for your prayers (and tell us how we can pray for you). I ask that you forward the blog to your friends, Facebook us, write to us.

And if you feel so led “Make a Donation” to help sustain the blog mission. 

Any amount is a blessing and will help.

My thanks and blessings to all this Sacred Season!