Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Today’s text

Matthew 3:1-3

In due course John the Baptist appeared; he proclaimed this message in the desert of Judaea, 'Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.' This was the man spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said: A voice of one that cries in the desert, 'Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.'


For what should I repent? I can list a dozen things, but my heart is in none of them.

I really don’t want to change. I am attached to the way I live and see things. The thought of changing how I see (and pigeon-hole) people and situations is harder work than I care to do. I am comfortably stuck in patterns of living that feel better than any alternative, if only because I know them. They are my ruts, familiar and well-worn.

My heart knows I can’t change anyway. I am stuck with the same sadness and fears that long have hemmed in my life. As much as I want to be happier, stronger and less able to be hurt, nothing will change unless you change me, O Lord.

Fear holds me back, which proves that again that I am 100 percent human. Fear is always the root of our problems and sorrows, our hatreds and our resistance to grow into your dream of what our lives could be. There is no greater enemy.

Fear keeps us from letting down our guard to enter a new way of life, a new way of being. John the Baptist (Jesus, too) called it the kingdom of heaven, the administration of the heavenly king, a rule quite unlike governments we know.

John describes this kingdom as a threat to all that resists it. This new godly administration will violently wipe away everything that is contrary to its way.

I don’t think John got it right. He understood a new king, a new rule was coming, but he failed to grasp how radically different the rule of heaven is from anything we have ever known or felt.

God’s new kingdom strikes at the root of our problem: our fear of each other, our fear of being hurt, our fear of losing what we think we most need, the fear moves us to strike at others, the fear that stops us from opening our hearts and being truly human with each other so that we may grow into God’s dream for our lives.

The kingdom of heaven, unlike earthly kingdoms, rules not by force but through the persuasion of love. The king appears in the form of Jesus, our brother, inviting us to enter a circle of blessing. The mercy of forgiveness and unmerited grace pours through him from the heart of God, drawing us into a new arrangement of things where each passes along blessing and grace, receiving the same in return from others. The circle of blessing melts away our fears, whispering that the rejections and pains we feel, the threats to our life and health, the sorrows we know do not finally matter.

They don’t matter, for heaven rules, and heaven is this circle of blessing with neither beginning nor end. When you get caught up in this circle, in God’s kingdom--if only for a moment, you feel the freedom from fear that changes you from the inside out. You know: the circle of blessing is more real and powerful than anything you fear.

The kingdom of heaven is near, always. The only thing it threatens is your fear.

Pr. David L. Miller

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