The Reign of God as darkness will demonstrate that there is no place not included in this Reign of love. For even though the darkness may be so deep and seem endless there is the God who brings us into being - new life. Darkness becomes that which is also a time for the availability of God to move in and claim us and lead us out of darkness or more deeply into it all. To move more deeply into the darkness of our lives is often seen as a time when we are coming closer to the edge. And yet, even as we move to the edge and do not see it until it may be too late, there is God's Reign in the times and places that seem to be too dark for anything to continue. The Reign of God as darkness announces the fact that we are always at home with our God even when our minds are fixed on another view of reality.
O God of love and new life, in the most despairing of times you come to walk with us and hold us and promise us that you will never leave us alone. Amen.
The Reign of God as darkness means there is no need to rush off to some other place or time. It is fine to stay put and rest and wonder and be confused and be unable to see that which will come next. For in the darkness there are so many opportunities to be utterly surprised. In the darkness of bigotry, some folks are greeted by love even as bigotry seems to reign. In the darkness of loss, some folks are held up by other lives that are there in the darkness. In the darkness of the ordinary days of our lives, some folks are gifted with eyes that see in the darkness - life blossoming. The Reign of God as darkness allows us to see how much beauty is available when the light within our lives is dim or being diminished to nothing at all. Check out a black and white photo - amazing beauty in the dark spaces as much as in the light. I often think of Maplethorpe photos of black and white people holding each other. They are able to change color within the increase of light or the movement out of light. It is all a part of the fullness of life that we often do not let ourselves experience.
O God of love and new life, you come to us to enlighten our lives even when that all takes place as we find ourselves in utter darkness. Continue to lead us, O God. Amen.
The Reign of God as darkness places God and God's Reign right into the middle of our lives. No place is outside of this Reigning life. Yes, there is quite a bit of emphasis on light during this time of the year. And yet, as we look to the light, we are in darkness. There is much life in the middle of darkness. It is here in the dark that we come in touch with that which is needed and precious and alive. The Reign of God as darkness allows us to be right where we are. There is no need for a religious barker to call us out of darkness in order to make life better. Rather, in the darkness we are simply engaging a bit more of the truth. The dark side of things are not negative - not something we must avoid. Often, it is as we see and experience life in times of darkness that we are able to see the expansiveness of God's love that does not stay put - out in the light. The stories of Christmas are full of darkness. It is not bad. The darkness of a small village and no room at the inn and a feeding trough made into an infant's bed looks like the beginning of a downer of a movie. And yet, there in the darkness - hope springs to life - outsiders become insiders - life itself becomes open to the dark and to the light. The Reign of God as darkness may surprise us with joy we did not anticipate.
O God of love and new life, you are with us in the darkness and in that darkness you still promise life forevermore - even when light is not shining Amen.
The Reign of God as announcement continues even after celebrations have ended and families have been dispersed and there seems to be rubbish piling up and leftovers waiting to be finished off. The day after the day that has brought folks together is a day that really needs the announcement of God's Reign to ring out. The day after all the celebration can be painfully quiet and despairing. The Reign of God as announcement does not let that pain and despair rule any day. Therefore even today - beloved are you - holy are you - precious are you - worthy are you - forever and ever. The Reign of God as announcement never can be shut up or shut out - even when the evidence of the day seems to say it is. For right when we are sold on the notion that all is lost and we and the day at hand are worthless - The Reign of God as announcement will interrupt - I pray that it is doing that right now.
O God of love and new life, without your voice ringing in our ears, we can forget about promises and be caught up in the mire of discontent. Hold us and move us again, Lord God. Amen.
The Reign of God as announcement seems to always have more to say - more to bring to life - more than what is presently at hand. That may be why it is so important to be people who listen. This is especially the case when we are invited to listen to voices that are not our own. For out there in the domain of what is not under our control comes that other voice - the voice of our God - the voice of the Reign of God as announcement. We will begin to hear news that will re-shape the day - especially when the day has been all planned out by what we have decided are our wants and needs. The Reign of God as announcement is meant to turn our heads and look in another direction. May I have your attention - is one way to pull people out of their books and away from their electronic devices. It is then that we wait (ah an Advent word) for a message or a warning or a surprise. The Reign of God as announcement brings all of those words into this day. Listen.
O God of love and new life, we wait for your word to bring to life in us something beyond our control and yet firmly planted in your Reign. Amen.
The Reign of God as announcement does not mean everything will change. It is simply the putting forth of a truth so that our lives may brush up against that which has been true from the beginning of time. We are the favored ones - the beloved of God. Yet, as we all know, we can dismiss the announcement and live as though we did not hear it - or at least did not hear it for us. The Reign of God as announcement sets the stage for the life that may or may not begin to take shape. In the story of Mary (yes, that Mary), she went for it. She stepped into it. In her 'lowly' position, how true could this announcement have sounded? And yet, she stepped into the story and made it as real as flesh and blood. With an announcement comes life that carries forth the substance of the announcement. As we are called favored or beloved, we are also invited to carry forth the substance of that announcement in and through our lives. That is all a part of the Reign of God settling in among us - as was always promised.
O God of love and new life, change our lives and bring the announcement of your gracious Reign into this day. Amen.
The Reign of God as announcement is a reminder that prior to seeing or doing or agreeing to anything - the Reign of God is already at hand. It is a tap on the shoulder or a breeze the moves across our faces. It is the fullness of the Reign of God already entering our space - our lives. Think of Mary - yes, the Mary of Nazareth - poor - a part of the left out - one of the insignificant ones - one who will still be merely a number on a census ordered by the powers of the world. Before she says "Yes," God is already announcing that which is at hand - Mary is favored. Really - in this kind of a world? Yes. The Reign of God as announcement is the presence of the powerful love of God that includes any and all and then uses any and all to bring forth the Reign of God in our time. Before any action - the promise is at hand.
O God of love and new life, open our ears and our hearts as your Reign continues to arrive among us. Amen.
The Reign of God as keeping on despite the facts is an invitation to take part in an alternative journey through the everyday world as it is. The facts at hand can often make us deal with those facts in ways that make sense. If we are attacked and know the facts about who attacks us, we usually fight back - meet force with force. The Reign of God as keeping on despite the facts teaches us to invite the other into another kind of relationship - another world. It is like turning the other cheek. It is an invitation to the one who strikes us to take part in a character that is not based on the ability to have power over another. It is an act that defies the facts that the other may hold about us. We may be cast as one that can be subjected to a lower position of worth - but we stand up to offer the other cheek to show that the facts that one carries may not be the truth. The Reign of God as keeping on despite the facts allows us to resist the ways of a world in which so-called facts about the other are allowed to rule us and lead us into the many ways of violence that seem to be so accepted in this world.
O God of love and new life, give us space to breathe in the Spirit of your Reign that we will live within vision of your Reign. Amen.
The Reign of God as keeping on despite the facts does not mean we live outside the realm of facts. I would insist that we want to see and know the facts. For example, the facts say that there are differences between people - maybe their ethnic heritage or race or country of origin or part of the city in which they live. Those facts can cause us to act in certain ways. Some facts can create anxiety in us - even fear. When we let those facts lead us in such a way, we will often abide by the differences and let those differences decide how we will be with those others or not with them. The Reign of God as keeping on despite the facts pull us to see new life within the facts of our differences. Rather than fear or anxiety, we are able to experience the gift that is brought into our lives by that which is different. Within the Reign of God, the differences give us the opportunity to learn more about others and more about ourselves and how this Reign of God does create a whole new way to live together.
O God of love and new life, help us to use the facts we say we hold in our hands for the well-being of the life of all around us - the life within your Reign. Amen.
The Reign of God as keeping on despite the facts seems to move us beyond the present that may be oppressive - depressive - overwhelming. We can all find ourselves at a point in or day in which there seems no way for any redemption or any new life to break in and claim us and move us. Days can become like that - no witness to a new world available so that we may be rescued and set free. The Reign of God as keeping on despite the facts is called hope. It is sitting right out there for us to enter and begin again. And yet, we may not be able to see beyond the facts of the day that often own our hearts and are able to do so well at misdirecting us. We are invited to never be held back by what is or that which appears to be in control of the world around us. Despite it all, we live boldly.
O God of love and new life, take us into the fullness of your presence. Amen.
The Reign of God as keeping on despite the facts means we are not controlled by what are deemed the facts. How often are facts presented in a courtroom only to find out decades later that the facts were manufactured - instruments of the people in power used to have the world as they like it. Facts may sometimes be nothing more than that which is convenient for some. The Reign of God as keep on despite the facts invites us to look with new eyes at that which we have already claimed as the facts. When we read through Scripture, we are not as concerned about facts as we are about truth. They are not the same thing. When facts rule, folks will settle on facts that they think are right - just look at the Creation museum in Kentucky. When we are not ruled by the facts we claim to be able to possess, we often find or stumble upon the truth. I find great inspiration in many of the pre-history stories and sagas and parables in Scripture but do not see them as facts. Rather, I hear them as truth that moves through the ages. The Reign of God as keeping on despite facts cannot be tied down - it is always moving us beyond our claim that we know and have the facts and therefore can shape the world into our image.
O God of love and new life, open our lives to the truth of your Reigning love and empower us to step into that love despite the facts we often choose to rule us. Amen.
The Reign of God as keeping on despite the facts is the insistence that the facts of the day are not what rules us or guides us. The facts may say everything is going down the tube but our lives may be rising and looking to encounter the newness that others do not see. I always marvel at people whose lives look as though they would be unbearable - at least more than I could ever endure. And yet, they are keeping on despite the facts of the world around them. More than that, they seem to be vitally alive and able to also take on whatever else comes their way. The Reign of God as keeping on despite the facts is a show of another way of seeing the facts around us - another way of reading them - another way of living into and through them. We are invited into the life of this Reign everyday despite the facts.
O God of love and new life, keep us anchored in your promises throughout this day. Amen.
The Reign of God as on the road again brings to mind the journey and action of the Samaritan whose compassion overturned conventional wisdom about touch and help and sacrifice for the well being of others. There is also the road on which two people were walking as they talked about all the events that had taken place in and around Jerusalem and the death of Jesus - who they hoped was the Messiah. On that road came wonder - thrilling tales - renewed vision - hopefulness that has the power to set them back on the road again. The Reign of God as on the road again takes us alongside a eunuch who is wondering about the strange images of the great prophet Isaiah and as he hears an explanation of God's mighty deeds that are always transforming our humanity into the image of God - as the prophet imagined - he enters into a new life.
O God of love and new life, be with us on the road today. We do not know where it will lead and yet we know that we will find a fullness of life unfolding before us. Move with us and walk with us and empower us to be the life of this Reign you have fashioned for the whole world. Amen.