We do lots of "kingdom" talk in the church. Striving to bring about the kingdom of God. Dreaming of the kingdom of God. Praying for the kingdom of God. As if it's some elusive widget we must find in a complicated puzzle. But the kingdom, as I recall from a few years of reading the Bible, is here and now, even within us. It's in our deepest dreams and hopes. Dreaming of the kingdom asks us to reach within our souls to listen to the song we sing loudest, or even softest, or the one we are almost afraid to sing because it might be too fabulous for us to imagine. Dreaming of the kingdom asks that we investigate ourselves and our souls to continue to improve as humans in relationship with each other. Dreaming of the kingdom is about loosing our souls to compel us to act in the world, our world, on a grand scale and with those who sit across from us at table.
So, when dreaming of the kingdom, here's some lyrics to the heavenly song:
1. Dignity for one and all. Everyone gets to know they matter, and everyone knows we all matter. We find ways to treat people with dignity, even in the difficult times, even when we don't agree with them. And we don't give up on each other just because life gets sticky and hard. If you don't think Jesus had a comment on this, how many of us would be eating dinner with the same friends who, a week before, left us to die on the cross? Actually, I think if we could master this, the rest would fall into place.
2. Truth in lending. My dreams of the kingdom involve lots and lots of honesty. Life seems complicated enough without people hiding behind emotional walls, intellectualizing instead of owning and exploring their feelings, and engaging in vague or passive conversations in relationships instead of substantive truth. And truth is what's at the bottom of our motivations and fears, so dig away to get to the kingdom, explore your dark places with God and those whom you love (and a professional, as well), and dream of more honest and Godly relationships while you're at it.
3. Bra straps that don't slip during the prayer of consecration. For that matter, shoes that look great without making your feet scream for mercy after four hours. And could they cost some amount less than a third of my paycheck?
4. Safety. Safety in home. Safety in work. Safety in love. Dream of a world where everyone wakes up in a safe place, eats safe food and drinks safe water, and goes to work (or school) in a place where their well-being and dignity are priorities. And then they are surrounded by people who love them in a safe, secure way. And work for that dream wherever you are with the people that you love and even those you aren't sure you can love.
5. Genuine confession and forgiveness. While I'd love to say that dreaming of the kingdom means no one ever hurts anyone ever again, that, as we say in the South, just ain't happening on this side of the kingdom. But our dream can be one where, when we hurt each other, we ask for forgiveness by owning what we did to hurt the other (without the thin platitudes, please), by explaining as best we can why we acted in such a hurtful way (see #2 - and this may take some conversations with a therapist), and by working towards reconciliation very, very carefully and very, very safely for all involved.
6. Self and other awareness. I'm worn out with unaware people. Really. Those people whose actions and motivations are bricked up behind a wall so thick they have no ability or even desire to explore their souls and those people who have no ability to put themselves in another's life. So a dream is one where people know themselves and continue to learn about themselves, each day, within the bonds of community and relationship.
7. Really good chocolate that has no calories. While I'm dreaming...