Deconstruction, New Creation, and Ordinary Time: Reflections for the Sixth Week of Pentecost

Pentecost Sunday marks the last Sunday of the season of Easter. After Pentecost there are twenty-six Sundays till the beginning of the next season of Advent. Pentecost is not a sprint, its more like a marathon. These reflections (posted late) represent the sixth Sunday after Pentecost or about a quarter of the way through. For a runner this might be just about the time their legs go numb. For some it might be just about the time the season seems a bit too long to finish. It seems appropriate here to take a deep breath and refocus on the importance of the kingdom, new creation, and what is called ordinary time.

Deconstruction and the Kingdom

The gospel texts thus far for Pentecost have come from the Gospel of Mark. The focus has been on the identity of Jesus as liberating King and Messiah and the nature of the kingdom. All this is predicated on the account of Jesus’ baptism, wilderness testing, and announcement of the kingdom in Mark 1:9-15. (CEB)

About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. 11 And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”

12 At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.

14 After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, 15 saying,“Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”

What are we to make of this kingdom that Jesus, empowered by the Spirit, inaugurates? I propose that we might say that the kingdom deconstructs and calls us into question. The length of the season of Pentecost disabuses us of confidence in the longevity of our own personal kingdoms. If we have trouble making it through twenty-six weeks, is there any way to hope for the endurance of our own kingdoms?

John Caputo writes in reference to the kingdom and the question What Would Jesus Deconstruct?,

In the view I am advancing here, deconstruction is treated as the hermeneutics of the kingdom of God, as an interpretive style that helps get at the prophetic spirit of Jesus – who was a surprising and sometimes strident outsider, who took a stand with the ‘other’ … deconstruction is good news because it delivers the shock of the other to the forces of the same, the shock of the good (the ‘ought’) to the forces of being (‘what is’), which is why I think it bears good news to the church. (26-27)

Ok, wait just a minute. Deconstruction as ‘good news’ for the church? This sounds strange. Does not deconstruction in actuality represent the danger of (so-called) ‘postmodern relativism’? Is it not simply destruction of all we hold dear and the practice of untruth of those that oppose God?

Well, not really. This very likely posits a misunderstanding of deconstruction and the kingdom. Caputo continues,

Things get deconstructed by the event of truth they harbor, an event that sets off unforeseeable and disruptive consequences … in a deconstruction our lives, our beliefs, and our practices are not destroyed but forced to reform and reconfigure – which is risky business. In the New Testament this is called metanoia [Greek for repentance], or the undergoing of a fundamental change of heart. Our hearts are turned inside out not by a vandal but by an angel or evangel of the truth… (27)

Deconstuction is organized around the idea that things contain a kind of uncontainable truth, that they contain what they cannot contain … The truth will set you free, but it does so by turning your life upside down … deconstruction is a hermeneutics of truth, of the truth of the event [of the kingdom], which is not deconstructable…

What would Jesus do? He would deconstruct a very great deal of what people do in the name of Jesus… (29-31)

There it is. In the process of deconstruction we are called into question by the kingdom of the liberating King himself. This is not simple destruction as is often claimed of deconstruction. The reason for this is that the event of deconstruction, the event of the kingdom, contains within it a corresponding reconstruction, reform, and refigurement by a surplus of truth that is uncontainable. Central to this is repentance – the orientation of hands, head, and heart towards the kingdom.

Easter and New Creation

The corresponding Pentecost texts from the Epistles thus far have come from 2 Corinthians 4, 5, and 6. While Jesus is the master of deconstruction, I would contend the Apostle Paul isn’t shabby himself. We might even call Paul the ‘deconstructive theologian of the new creation.’ Indeed, while a full exegesis isn’t in order here, I would say that many if not most miss the deconstructive use of the household codes in Ephesians for instance. Paul uses the commonly known codes for family structures of his day but with key changes and omissions. If we miss Paul’s methodology here we can easily skip over the deconstructive force of the passage and seriously get ‘headship’ wrong in a way that actually neutralizes the deconstructive force of the passage. I think much the same goes for Paul methodology in his sermon at the Areopagus in the book of Acts – deconstruction.

And in 2 Corinthians I would suggest that a great deal of confusion can be avoided if we see Paul deploying a method of deconstruction. Much of what Paul says seems on the surface to support a typical Greek dualism between the ‘spiritual’ (which is good) and the material/physical (which is bad). But I suggest that Paul, in writing into a context ripe with Greek think, is using this type of thinking to deconstruct itself. Ultimately, Paul is a Jewish theologian that places priority on embodiment contra the typical Greek dualisms of his day. But for Paul this emphasis on embodiment has necessarily been rethought and reworked into a theology of the new creation which is intrinsically tied to the person and kingship of Jesus – his life, crucifixion and resurrection. Daniel Kirk observes in Jesus Have I Loved but Paul?,

Jesus’ occupying a position over the world entails something much more comprehensive than persons in a restored relationship with God, that something more on the order of new creation is in view. Paul uses the phrase ‘new creation’ to describe the effects of Jesus’ resurrection and suggests that this itself is the world that Christians inhabit and called to bring to existence (2 Cor. 5:17).

The idea that new creation begins with Jesus’ resurrection is tied, in part, to the fact that the resurrected Jesus has a body. The life that Jesus lives now is embodied; the hope that Jesus’ resurrection therefore holds out for his followers is an embodied life. This itself spells the beginning of the end for stereotypical views of our souls going to heaven when we die. No, our ultimate hope for salvation is to live a re-embodied life on a new earth. (45)

Paul carries the gospel by literally embodying the message of the crucified Christ. [This] means giving up one’s own life so that others may live. Or, closer to Paul’s own words, to have death be put on display in our own lives so that Jesus’ life might be realized in others (2 Cor 4:12, 15). (83)

Paul viewed himself as a ‘living narration of the gospel of Christ crucified [and resurrected].’ (84)

I want to suggest that in Pentecost we find that each day in which we are empowered by the Spirit of Resurrected One is Easter. Easter calls us into question. We might evens say that Easter deconstructs us with its surplus of cruciform and resurrection truth. Easter opens our eyes to the need for more than self help. Only an Easter faith offers us what we really need … resurrection – an inaugurated reality now awaiting fulfillment at the final coming of our liberating King. But resurrection doesn’t come without the rest of the story. The Jesus story of resurrection requires participation in the cruciform sufferings and death of Christ. Such a sustained participation only comes from the empowerment of the Spirit of the Cruciform One himself. But such a sustained empowerment again deconstructs us and disabuses us of any notions of bringing about new creation on our own terms.

Ordinary Time and the Slow Work of God

The season of Pentecost doubles in the liturgical calendar as what is called ‘ordinary time’. There are actually two periods of ordinary time – the period after Christmas and the period of Pentecost until the start of Advent. It is during these times that we learn the ‘wisdom of enoughness’ and the ‘wisdom of routine’ (Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year, see chapters 15 and 29). These seasons are not ordinary in the sense that they don’t matter or are unimportant. In fact this may do a disservice and insult to what ‘ordinary’ is all about. Properly speaking these seasons are called ‘ordinary’ from the word ‘ordinal’ which means ‘counted time’ and because there are no major feast days to celebrate. But I think we can also call these seasons ‘ordinary’ because it is during these times that we have the occasion to decide if we are going to trust in the slow work of God.

It is during these times that we have the occasion if we are really going to take Christmas and Easter seriously – if we are really going to live like the birth and resurrection of Jesus has radical yet deeply ordinary ramifications for our everyday lives down to the smallest details. Ordinary time teaches us that it is the mundane realities of living that reveal who we really are and that mediate to us the sacramental grace of God. Contrary to the ‘go big or go home’ mentality of much of contemporary evangelicalism genuine incarnation is slow work and relational (ie, inefficient). It is the ordinary and slow work of God that again, calls us into question. In the seasons of ordinary time we learn that we can’t rush God and we can’t rush incarnation. May we trust in and allow ourselves to be deconstructed by the ordinary and slow work of God … and in the process be shaped into a kingdom oriented, slow people of new creation.

Prayer for the Week:

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Recognizing the Faithful One: Thoughts on the Fourth Week of Pentecost

Note: Paul Ricoeur is one of my favorite philosophers and I had planned a much more full interaction between the text below and his thought, particularly his ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’ and ‘hermeneutical arc’. This did not materialize as I had hoped. But because I need to get caught up with these (and some other things) I’m going with a seriously truncated version of what I had originally planned. Despite the lack of a more substantial engagement, hopefully those familiar with his thought can see the Ricoeurian undertones.

The Gospel Text for the Fourth Week of Pentecost, Mark 4:35-41 (CEB)

35 Later that day, when evening came, Jesus said to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” 36 They left the crowd and took him in the boat just as he was. Other boats followed along.

37 Gale-force winds arose, and waves crashed against the boat so that the boat was swamped. 38 But Jesus was in the rear of the boat, sleeping on a pillow. They woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re drowning?”

39 He got up and gave orders to the wind, and he said to the lake, “Silence! Be still!” The wind settled down and there was a great calm. 40 Jesus asked them, “Why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”

41 Overcome with awe, they said to each other, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”

A Note on Hermeneutical Horizons

I received some trenchant feedback via email concerning my previous lectionary reflection about my statement about the parable of Jesus,

they first and foremost tell us about the nature of the kingdom of God and the identity of Jesus before they tell us anything about us. Or we could say that whatever they tell us about us, they tell us about ourselves in relation to Jesus and his kingdom. Jesus and the kingdom of God first, us second.”

To make a long email short, my critic seemed to have two main concerns: first that I was saying that the text says nothing about us and second, that I had hindered one’s ability to ‘immediately apply’ (their words) God’s word to our life. To this I simply repeat my contention that the parables say something about Jesus and his kingdom before they say anything about us. Again, its not they say nothing about us, but what they say about us is within the context the kingdom and liberating kingship of Jesus. I would also say here that it is, in actuality, within this kingdom context that we truly see ourselves as we are (for good or bad).

Second, I would question the immediacy of the text most readers of the Bible simply assume and the way so many are driven to ‘life application’ that is so often displayed. There is potential for misunderstanding here so let me try to be clear. I am not saying that we can’t ever understand the text, nor am I saying that Scripture has no bearing on our lives. What I am saying is that typical evangelical readings of the Bible seriously lack any sort of contemplative or hermeneutical patience in which we allow the Spirit to apply the Scriptural text to us and form us.

There are three main horizons, contexts, or ‘worlds’ involved in our reading of the Bible – the world behind the text, the world of the text, and the world of the text. Most Christians it seems jump straight to our present context, or the world in front of the text. But without the patience to ponder and spend time in the other two worlds or horizons, our reading will be skewed and we will be severely temped to force ‘life applications’ out of the text ourselves rather than listening to the Spirit in the text. We need to slow down and learn hermeneutical patience.

Got Faith?

These same concerns are at play in the text at hand, where Jesus calms the storm. I can’t count how many sermons I’ve heard that treated this text as mainly saying something about the disciples and us – that we should have ‘faith’, meaning that we should not question and that doubt is bad, bad, bad. However, I am going to stick with my hermeneutical rule of thumb and say that we should read this parable firstly in the context of what it is saying about the identity of Jesus and the nature of his kingdom. I am also going to contend that by not reading the text this way we not only misunderstand faith (and doubt), but in the end we also are far too harsh on the disciples (and others that fail to display what we think of as true ‘faith’).

Even today, boats on the Sea of Galilee have cause to worry about high winds and waves swamping boats. So the disciple’s concern here was not misplaced. But this story is not simply about danger and rescue. Mark’s readers likely would have heard other and older references in the text. They may have thought of Jonah who was disobedient and thrown overboard during a great storm. Or perhaps they thought of the Exodus (a common theme in the gospels) when God made a way through the sea. But also they may have thought back to the creation stories where God brought order to the chaos and God’s world emerged from the waters. There is also the Psalms (65:7, 89:9, 93:3-4, 107:23-30) where the God who is Lord over all calms the raging seas.

The fact here is that Israelites have been a sea fearing people rather than a seafaring people. The sea and the waters represent evil and chaos that is the absence of creation or that threatens to destroy God’s creation. In Daniel 7, the sea is where monsters came from. What Jesus has been teaching in parables and word-pictures prior to this, we now have in more tangible terms. The power that created in the first place is now being displayed in the inaugurated kingdom of Jesus – in the liberating King himself. Its not a kingdom like everyone wanted or expected, but Jesus tends to deconstruct what we think kingdom is or should be. And there are some noticeable differences. Jesus is a not a disobedient Jonah, but is instead obedient. And Jesus does more than vanquish some monsters, he calms the sea itself (which terrifies the disciples). We find here, that in the midst of disobedient and faithless Israel who do not recognize Jesus for who he is; Jesus, himself, is the Faithful One. This is the stuff kingdom and new creation is made of (notice at the end of Revelation there is ‘no more sea’).

In fact, Jesus seems so calm, even while the forces of evil threaten, that he sleeps. His disciples are put off by this and question whether he cares or not. Jesus responds with ‘Be still! Silence! Shalom! Peace!’ and the storm calms. What follows here is Jesus calling their faith into question. Before we are too hard on the disciples we should stop to consider how faith is being used here. We should keep in mind first that up until this point the issue at hand has been the identity of Jesus, about having ‘eyes to see’ and ‘ears to hear’ – not something one figures out by adding up clues, but something that is revealed.

Second, this story points us straight to Mark chapter 8 and the great confession by Peter about who Jesus is. Faith here is not simply mental assent. I would suggest that in the context of Mark itself that ‘faith’ includes recognizing who Jesus is as the Messiah, the liberating King and the Faithful One (remember that Jesus had given the disciples some extra tutoring sessions just prior to this) and that faithfulness is never far away from faith (remember also that many in the crowds would fall away after this). Jesus is asking them in the midst of the gathering forces of evil and de-creation, “Don’t you recognize who I am yet … are you not yet ready for faithfulness to the kingdom?”

Calling Ourselves into Question

These are the questions that are posed to us as well. Here we should, we must, be willing to call ourselves into question – we must greet ourselves with a hermeneutic of suspicion. And we must especially do this when we have not experienced suffering. In fact, to follow Jesus is to follow in the way of a suffering Messiah. We don’t really know the answer to the question Jesus asks us here until we encounter suffering. The experience of suffering becomes our ‘critical moment’ or ‘dark night’, calling us into question whether we like it not – maturing us from a precritical naïveté to a matured second ‘knowing’ on the other side (or what Ricoeur refers to also as a second naïveté).

In this, doubt may actually play a constructive role as a necessary part of the process of deepening our faith. Doubt can actually serve as the condition of faith and not its opposite (this of course assumes that we are not thinking of ‘faith’ here as rational assent in Cartesian terms but Spirit revelation of who Jesus is and faithfulness; nor is our end or telos modern ‘certainty’ but biblical hope and assurance arising from the story of Jesus). The practice of ‘calling into question’ is the only way to be sure that our preconceptions and unquestioned theologies do not become idols.

As Walter Brueggemann says,

“Theology that is ‘pre-pain’ must be greeted with suspicion.” (Interpretation and Obedience: From Faithful Reading to Faithful Living, 26)

We must point out that there is great hope here however as well. Mostly I have seen Jesus statement about the disciple’s faith, or lack thereof, interpreted as a stern rebuke. I don’t think this is necessary. Jesus here certainly is calling the disciples to take stock of their understanding and fittingness for the kingdom. But notice also, that despite the fact that the rhetorical answer to his question to them is ‘no’, Jesus does not send them away. This to me is BIG! Just like Jesus does not send the disciples away, neither does he send us away. We can have patience and we don’t have to have to understand it all right now. Jesus, the Faithful One, takes us as his followers – doubts and all.

Prayer for the Fourth Week of Pentecost

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving­kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Imagination, Story, and Kingdom: (Late) Reflections on the Third Week of Pentecost

The Gospel Text for the Third Sunday of Pentecost, Mark 4:26-34 (TNIV)

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth.32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

I’m still playing catch up, and still a week behind on these – yet being late has turned out to be providential for me. I had followed my normal routine for the lectionary passages. I had done my readings of the passages, oriented my private reflections around them as usual for the week, looked at some Greek, read some N.T. Wright, and so forth … normal stuff for me. But when I went to write nothing flowed. However, this morning with our Crosspoint community, within ecclesia, over the communion table of our Lord’s body and blood, in conversation and community, and through the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer (much thanks to the Rogers family for leading us), the fog it seems was cleared and there was clarity. (Note: it works both ways – sometimes our experience helps us sort out what we know and have studied; and sometimes what we know and have studied helps us sort out our experience. Its never one or the other, but the two existing in interrelation and interdependence.)

Parables and Priorities

Before getting to the text at hand, we need to back up a bit and talk about the use of parables by Jesus. Now, it is common when we hear a sermon on the parables for the preacher to systematize the thing by breaking it down into parts (and, most importantly, sermon points) with the seeming purpose of relating it to each of us directly and individually. Thus the common questions: does your individual heart represent the hard ground, the rocky ground, the thorns and weeds, or the good soil? But this is to almost entirely miss the point from the very beginning – to miss the context of the kingdom.

This is not to say that the parables have nothing to do with us, they certainly do – its just that we aren’t the main subject. The danger here is that if we act like we are we are liable to substitute our own kingdom for the kingdom of God. Here is a general ‘rule’ I go by when dealing with the parables: they first and foremost tell us about the nature of the kingdom of God and the identity of Jesus before they tell us anything about us. Or we could say that whatever they tell us about us, they tell us about ourselves in relation to Jesus and his kingdom. Jesus and the kingdom of God first, us second.

Parables: Revealing and Concealing

This is all a carryover from the previous scene in chapter 3 where Jesus began using parables to respond to the religious leaders. Whether one understood the parables or not, and one’s reaction to the parables indicated how much was really understood of Jesus himself and the inbreaking kingdom. In chapter 4 we find Jesus again teaching by parables, in this case, the parable of the sower (vs 3-9). This parable was a teaching on the establishment of God’s kingdom in Jesus, the great eschatological moment of renewal that had been promised. For those that had ears to understand this was a message that God was making the land fruitful again. But as this parable shows a great many don’t get what Jesus is saying, his disciples included! They question Jesus and he responds with an explanation (vs 13-20) which, ironically, apparently wasn’t understood much better. The parables both revealed and concealed. And my suggestion here is that Jesus himself is the hermeneutical key to understanding the parables.

If we refuse to center our identities around Jesus and his kingdom, the parables become stumbling blocks. We may grow tired of having to wrestle with truths we feel should just be explained ‘clearly’ (see the disciples in verse 10). Or we may feel threatened in our position or status. Or we might conclude that we aren’t getting what is due us, that Jesus isn’t bringing in the kingdom the way we want him too. People responded in all these ways and more to Jesus and his parables, indicating whether or not they were part of Jesus’ ‘true family’ (3:35). The kingdom of God is a ‘mystery’, not a puzzle to be solved. We don’t deduce the kingdom by adding up clues. The word ‘mystery’ here is the word for God revealing something previously hidden and that otherwise we would not have access too. While our heads may certainly be involved – it is equally as much (or more) a matter of our hands and hearts as well.

Developing a Kingdom Imagination

While this may sound strange coming from someone with formal theological training (of the systematic type even) I firmly believe that we cannot ‘systematize’ ourselves into the kingdom! Jesus did not bring in the kingdom along with a systematic theology. Instead, he drew from the familiar and organic images the people knew and he told stories, lots of stories. The kingdom of God contains a surplus that can never be contained in an instruction manual. Attempts to make Scripture either an instruction manual or systematic theology demonstrate a lack of understanding of what the kingdom is and the manner in which God forms a kingdom people. We are by necessity storied into the kingdom and storied into a kingdom people by the conversion of our imaginations.

This is what following the church calendar is about – through doing so we narrate ourselves into the life and story of Christ. This is what our weekly liturgy is about – storying ourselves into the kingdom by the shaping of our imaginations. One of the ways that we do this is through taking Communion as a community each week. Through the Eucharist we narrate the gospel, the story of Christ becomes our own defining narrative, and we are formed into a cruciform, kingdom shaped people (as I have said before, I don’t know how churches get by without taking Communion weekly).

In addition, there are at least three other ways that come to mind for me with which we could shape ourselves as a kingdom people. The first is the regular corporate recitation of the Apostles or Nicene Creed, not merely as an ‘indoctrination’ into a supposedly dry, stale Trinitarian dogma, but as a way to convert our imaginations to the activity and story of Father, Son, and Spirit in the world in which we are brought to participation. The second, is the regular practice of corporate lament for those places in our lives, community, and the world where the kingdom is not manifest. I am convinced we cannot call ourselves a kingdom shaped people unless we lament and grieve well … together.

Now I expect some possible pushback on the first one, even from those that may have (re)discovered an appreciation for the church calendar and liturgy. Some may even think I’m nuts for bringing it up. And I expect that the practice of lamenting and grieving together will be too intimate for many (for us it was something we were thrust into and couldn’t avoid). The third thing I have in mind though is the corporate reading/recitation of the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9-13). Now, this prayer could just as appropriately be called the ‘Disciples Prayer’ but the designation that really captures my own imagination is the Lord’s Prayer as the ‘Cry of the Kingdom.’ Everything we need for the formation of a kingdom shaped people is in the ‘Cry of the Kingdom.’ I was blessed by our saying of the prayer this week and I believe we would be served well to say this prayer communally on a weekly basis. (I have other ideas but we’ll leave it at these three for now.)

You might say that the formation of a kingdom and Jesus shaped people takes (communal) practice – the sharing of the Table, the reading of the biblical story, shared lament, and the recitation of the prayer (and even the Creed) – by this we narrate the Story in multiple ways. And we do these things weekly, we do them and then we do them again. We do this because, as my grandfather told me, in repetition there is learning. But developing a kingdom imagination is not just about the head. We find also that in repetition there is living – a kingdom imagination involves the hands as well, the formation of kingdom practices. Finally, we find that in repetition there is loving/longing – and imagination of the heart as well, the desiring of the kingdom. At the intersection of the formation of our head, hands, and heart is a kingdom shaped imagination.

Go Small, Go Slow, and Go Home

It seems clear to me that the majority of Evangelicalism as a conglomeration is captured by a malformed ‘go big or go home’ imagination (browsing the shelves at any Christian retail store will confirm this). I expressed my frustration with this way of thinking, doing, and loving in my last post.  So, what shall we say as we try to imagine the kingdom through the lenses of the parable of the growing seed and the parable of the mustard seed (as well as the parable of the sower)? The first thing that jumps out is that all these parables involve the planting of something small, a seed. Second, we find that the images used here are all from the normal, everyday, local experience of the listeners. Third, we find that the image of a seed is both organic and slow.

Allow me to suggest that rather than the ‘go big or go home’ imagination, we are better served for the kingdom of God with a ‘go small, go slow, and go home’ imagination. Go small because the little things of the kingdom are what subverts the injustice of world systems. Go slow because the kingdom is more like a fruitful harvest that grows over time rather than have it your way fast food. Go home (or local) because the locally incarnated kingdom of God redeems the comings and goings of our mundane, ordinary, and everyday localities. There seem to be many who have a disdain for mundane, but if the kingdom is not manifest locally in the mundane it is not manifest at all. This is what the presence of a Jesus shaped people with a kingdom imagination (ie, ecclesia) is all about.

May we be such a people.

May our imaginations be captured by our liberating King Jesus this week!

Prayer for the Third Sunday of Pentecost

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.