The world of American politics is very divisive. People have strong feelings that this party and its supporters are good and the other party is wrong, bad, even frightening. Politics seems fundamentally about power and being able to have power over others. In the midst of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions I find myself turning again to the Lord’s Prayer (the Our Father), this time to Thy kingdom come.
When I was younger I was upset by the appeal Thy kingdom come. It seemed like a plea for a male-dominated, hierarchical governing system, which didn’t interest me then, nor does it now. Admittedly if God is a white male with a long, flowing beard, seated in heaven far away, pulling strings and sending down lightning bolts to punish, God’s kingdom won’t have much appeal for many of us.
I now yearn for God’s kingdom because I believe it is a time when there is shalom, a Hebrew word meaning peace and wellbeing for all. I think of it as Eden renewed, when God’s word is written on our hearts and God is God of us all and we are all God’s people. It is like a hidden treasure in a field or a pearl of great value that is worth selling all that I have in order to buy.
The prayer asks for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done, and for that to happen on earth, I think right here and right now. So how do we open to that possibility, because it does happen already in moments and in part?
I think we can choose to try to know all of us as God’s beloved children. There is so much social change happening now and international insecurity of terrible proportions. How can we comfort and be comforted? Can we ask what are the fears, needs, dreams, and hurts of those with whom we disagree? What am I blind to in those whose views I find unacceptable that keeps me from recognizing our common humanity? I think everyone yearns to be listened to, heard, and respected. Everyone wants a sense of having a valued place at the table.
What do I understand as the kingdom of God?
What do I have to let go in order not to slam and box up those with whom I disagree? How do I disagree strongly with someone and yet be open to hear that person’s soul?
Prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
For further reference:
“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (See Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Do what you can to be peace and to do justice, but never expect or demand perfection on this earth. It usually leads to a false moral outrage, a negative identity, intolerance, paranoia, and self-serving crusades against “the contaminating element,” instead of “becoming a new creation” ourselves (Galatians 6:15)—Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations, July 27, 2016.