*(Message from 11.06.2016 Worship Gathering that goes with the weekly Lectionary reading found HERE)
What kind of world do we want to live in?
What is our part in making it that way?
These are the questions we must ask if we are to unlock the mature version of our faith and the deepest truth about who we are and what beauty and strength we have to offer the world.
In a moment of divine imagination made flesh, Jesus walking this earth offered a vision of another way to organize our world. Rather than violence, scapegoats, and a never ending cycle of winners and losers, Jesus offered up a new path. The path of love and peace. Jesus described this new possibility as an “on earth as it is in heaven” sort of place. The earliest Christians were so enraptured in this vision of the Kingdom of God that they made every effort to create it or, more accurately, to receive it. Acts 2 + 4 both end with incredible real-world expressions of what it looks like when human beings live “on earth as it is in heaven.”
…great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them… (Acts 4:33-34)
These small windows into Heaven on earth are worth exploring in greater detail, but before we do, we must figure out what in the world Jesus is talking about in Luke 20.
“All are alive to God”
This incredible statement concludes the passage we are given in today in the Lectionary reading. Roll it around in your mind for a few minutes. At first, you might think the amazing part is trying to imagine God somehow speaking “right now” people long dead like Moses. Next we maybe start to imagine what that means for lost loved ones we would give anything to talk to one more time. But eventually, it settles in how amazing this would be right here and right now.
Are poor people really alive to me?
Are my neighbors really alive to me?
Are black people really alive to me?
Are gay people really alive to me?
Are Republicans really alive to me?
Are Democrats alive to me?
Are Muslims alive to me?
Are children without water alive to me?
Are the humans suffering in Mosul alive to me?
Are the 65+ million refugees alive to me?
All of these are alive to God.
If we have really understood the vision of Heaven coming to Earth that Jesus preached regularly - if we can really see Jesus’ imagination for the possibility of a new type of human world, then we must EITHER agree with Jesus that ALL are alive and deserve to be treated with dignity and love and empathy - OR - we must admit we disagree with Jesus.
Jesus is fairly clear about his political agenda:
Love your enemies.
Love your neighbor as your own self.
The rest of the new testament is shaped by this to such a degree that we get statements like:
- It is LOVE that remains.
- It is LOVE that overcomes.
- You cannot love God without loving your neighbor.
Love is the political agenda of Christians. The measuring stick of any human system is its ability to move the people involved to greater levels of empathy and connection, even with people outside of their system. Christianity, at its best, is phenomenally positioned to thrive at precisely this task. That we have often resorted to a small tribal vision for the world is a tragedy.
One week from today, when the election signs are down and people are posting mostly about kittens on Facebook again, it will be Jesus ‘on earth as it is in heaven’ agenda that will represent the best hope for the world. And, as always, it will be on Christians to see if we can shake off our fear and slumber and show the world how to live as if ‘ALL are alive to us’ and to create little pocket of Heaven where ‘there no needy persons among us.’
Can house churches really change all of that. NO. They cannot change it all or even most of it. But maybe we can take baby steps towards creating a pocket of love and grace. Maybe can be another well of water + connection in a desert of blame, shame and disconnection. Like the House churches in the book of Acts, maybe our Churches can be among the first fruits of a new era of “on earth as it is in heaven” Our growing generosity and willingness to share our wealth of connection with the world, is our passing on of the gifts we have been given.