Once there was and Once there was not…
“Once there was, and once there was not, a magical place of pure delight and wonder. In this land a thriving people flourished. Along the city streets mischievous little boys and adventurous little girls played. Happy mothers nursed their infants with no fear of death or disease. In this city, no one trained for war anymore – all of their guns had been made into farming equipment. And so young women and men built their own houses and planted their own vineyards and ate and drank out of the abundance of its harvest, no one was hungry. Peace was so pervasive and natural that even the wolf cubs played with the lambs. Here, the courts always rendered true and sound judgements, but in fact, they were empty because the people acted justly, they loved mercy and they walked humbly together in community.
Sitting along mainstreet the elders would gather, their canes stacked along the rail, as they reminisced about the times of old.
These were a people who were no strangers to struggle and hardship – they endured war and exile, suffering and pain, oppression and injustice. The city had been invaded, ruined and yet now rebuilt was in fact so beautiful, free and safe – it was a refuge that people sought out from far, far away. The comedy and tragedy borne from such drama didn’t take away from the magical place because there were no more tears or crying, even with scars upon their hands and hearts, there was no mourning, because no one was afraid.
In this place there lived a Mighty Warrior, one whose battle cry was said to be as thunderous as a great Lion roaring. The Mighty Warrior had conquered their enemies, he had devastated their invaders, even death was rebuked; his victory had been utter and total. Now that the time of war had passed, his thunderous voice belted out the heartiest of songs! His throaty melodies were hummed and whistled by all the people of the land.
In the evenings the Mighty Warrior would gather the people together for a great feast. They ate from a lavish banquet prepared with the richest of foods, delicious meat paired with the finest wine! All were welcome at the Table (those once known by names like Poor, Refugee, Disabled, Mentally ill, Felon, Teen Mom, and Queer community) – it was a mosaic of people from every nation and tribe, people and language. The Mighty Warrior made sure that all disgrace was removed and together it simply was The Family Gathering. And every night they feasted together and found themselves filled with gratefulness, joy, laughter and celebration. And so it was day after day in that magical place, the city of wonder and delight.
“In that day they will say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.’”
The Unseen Reality
I’ve been so recently captivated by the “unseen reality” of the Kingdom of God – that magical place that is here and not yet. An Upsidedown Kingdom that operates with a different set of values- love for enemies, nonviolence instead of war, outcasts welcomed in, the first becoming last, faith instead of sight, grace instead of shame, and radical forgiveness…I want to be so oriented to that Kingdom and set of values that I recognize it immediately and that I embody it within myself.
The Church and followers of Jesus are to be an outpost of that Kingdom- a pitstop for the people of our communities to enter and brush up against something so beautiful that it feels unearthly, so refreshing its irresistible!
The Sojourner Opportunity
As a recipient of Fuller Theological Seminary’s “Parish Pulpit Fellowship” I have the opportunity to explore the world and catch glimpses of that Upsidedown Kingdom. I know that the Spirit of God is at work, breaking forth in fields and cities, churches and prisons across the world. For the next 10 months I’m seeking to catch glimpses of The Family Gathering- finding relatives who are living and breathing Kingdom values. Listening and watching, maybe even joining along in telling a story or two! I’ve quite literally become homeless, uprooted and stripped of regular sources of security so I’ll be living on hospitality, receiving instead of giving, being instead of doing. But, I hope my curiosity is greater than my fear and biases can be put down in order to learn. I hope to fall more in love with that Mighty Warrior who rejoices over me with singing and return with an unshakable hope.
So here I go @SojournerPaz on Instagram.