The Reign of God
This week at Orama we have been reflecting together about “the Reign of God”.
Jesus, as a devout Jew, would have been familiar with the differences between two groups in Judaism in the 1st Century Common Era: the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The major differences between these two groups is understood to have been their attitudes regarding life after death. It was in response to their questions and debates that Luke tells us that Jesus made this comment:
Luke 17: 20 Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, "The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; 21 nor will they say, "Look, here it is!' or "There it is!' For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you."
Considering this passage gives us the opportunity to understand that our shared life in community at Orama causes the Reign of God to become present in our midst.
Ephesians 2:1-10 describes that now that we live in the life of Christ we are not only carried into the relationship between Father and Son, our lives are lived out in the midst of the presence of God. We can therefore also understand that when we agree together and pray for someone or a circumstance in the world, then the Reign of God (or perhaps even the Risen Christ) is what connects us to that person or situation. We always have the choice to turn our backs on that involvement in the household of God and to become distracted again by fear, possessions, power, addictions, violence. (When we live in this condition of alienation we become subject again to the natural laws of consequence which is how Brad Jersak defines “God’s wrath”.)
Genesis teaches us that God is as close as our breath. Genesis 2:7 means exactly that, we are composed of moist dust and the breath of God. (We are reminded of this on Ash Wednesday whilst we are signed with a cross of ashes: when breath ceases, human beings return to dust.) Therefore at a cellular level we live in close proximity to God and our very life depends on this relationship. As we have discussed previously, Julian of Norwich also reminds us of the exquisite tenderness of God and our profound reliance on God. Particularly in her reflection that the existence of everything “all Creation” is simply and profoundly held together by Love.
So the next question that arises is: how then do we live in response to such breath-taking Love? Well the passage from Micah 6:8, lets us know very clearly what is required in response to God’s covenantal love:
8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? NRSV
Other questions that were explored this week were: Where do I think that God resides? Is God’s presence only perceived through bodily life? If you now want to explore these ideas a little further, they were developed during the week at Orama by us watching the movie “As it is in Heaven” and also hearing brief excerpts from a book by Barbara Brown Taylor called “An Altar in the World”.