I’m going to go back to what I love during this Lenten Season…taking photos and highlighting the beauty in the everyday, the sacredness of all that is around us, and in doing so, finding God in his creation.
I’ll be using Diana Butler Bass’ Grounded: Forty Day Devotional as a guide. I hope you’ll join me on this 40 day journey back to Immanuel, God with us.
“Heaven is both a location in the larger cosmos and a spiritual geography that represents divine attributes and intention. . . . In the New Testament, heaven most often appears as the ‘kingdom of heaven,’ God’s political and social vision for humanity.” (Grounded, p. 119)
That “heaven” is a political and social vision might be shocking to some, for many people still think of “heaven” as a perfect place you go after you die. Jesus, however, taught that heaven was an immediately accessible reality, a way of life based in God’s compassion and justice. To him, heaven was here and now, not some distant place in the future. We don’t go to heaven. Heaven has come to us. And we are called to live its radical love in the world.
I included the reflection from today’s devotion, as it is a challenging way of thinking for me.
In all of my church experience, heaven was indeed that perfect, far away, pie in the sky destination, once and only once, I lived the prerequisite Christian life here on earth. It was attainable only if all of the rules were followed.
I’m learning though, that the idea of heaven is as much spiritual as literal, living my life ideally based in God’s compassion and justice. Not the notion of justice as punishment, but justice in the sense of taking care of and giving people their rights. In the Hebrew, the word mishpat is used over and over to describe taking up the cause and care of widows, orphans, immigrants, and the poor. Those who had no social standing or power. Today this group would include, the refugee, the homeless, single parents, children, and the elderly.
In this country, those are politically hot button issues. Issues that have divided not only our nation, but also those who profess Christ. His life was spent radically challenging those in power in order to bring justice to those who had no voice. As I am writing this, funding has been cut, to the point of paralyzing, those programs designed to provide justice to those most in need. In Matthew 25, it is clear that we are to care for the poor and the needy. As a nation, we will eventually be judged by how we treat the least of these.
I want to continually rethink and challenge my ideas of what justice looks like. I want to live my life based in God’s compassion and justice. To do justice, by loving and defending those with the least social power and standing.
“Heavenly Father, heavenly Mother,
Holy and blessed is your true name.
We pray for your reign of peace to come,
We pray that your good will be done,
Let heaven and earth become one.
Give us this day the bread we need,
Give it to those who have none.
Let forgiveness flow like a river between us,
From each one to each one.
Lead us to holy innocence
Beyond the evil of our days—
Come swiftly Mother, Father, come.
For yours is the power and the glory and the mercy:
Forever your name is All in One.”
(The Lord’s Prayer, version by Parker Palmer)