I remember the first time I said the Lord's Prayer from beginning to end, all the
way through, without missing a word. I was sitting next to my mom in my home
church; First United Methodist Church in Floydada, Texas. Mom and I had practiced
for weeks, every night at bedtime and sometimes during the day. When she was
really proud of me she would put her arm behind my back and gather my long hair
in her hand, first from the far side and then from the side closest to her. I
could feel her pull it together in the back and then she would pat by back gently
as she stroked my hair. Lots of gethering and patting accompanied my accomplishment
that Sunday morning.
I remember when I first began to understand "..... and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us." Forgiveness just doesn't come
easily to many of us. I was in third grade when I experienced the first negative
talk from my classmates about the fact that I was adopted. The adoption process
is interesting in that the need for forgiveness stacks up like a line of carefully
placed dominoes and if one falls ..... they all fall. There is the need to forgive
biological parents, those who tease and in terms of adopted children it often
comes around to trying to forgive oneself.
And, I remember the first time I heard Fr. Richard say, "When people say piously,
"Thy kingdom come" out of one side of their mouth, they need to also
say, "My kingdom go!" out of the other side. Forgiving trespasses is
a piece of cake compared to this challenge. In his reflection today, Fr. Rohr
is talking about Lordship and kingdoms.
The Question: What "kingdoms" do you need to let go of before you can enjoy
the kingdom of heaven?"
Kingdoms ....... Stephen Covey describes the same idea in talking about "centers".
In his work he asks the question, "What is your center?" The choices include work, money, spouse, children, God, values, entertainment
and others. You get the idea? As I travel from place to place, teaching and learning
from others, I am often surprised by the understanding we have about the kingdom
of heaven. At some level most of us seem to have grown up with the idea that
"the kingdom of heaven" is experienced when we die and if we are lucky to get to heaven.
Fr. Richard says "..... It (the kingdom) is always here and not here. It is
always now and not yet." He continues, "The kingdom of God supersedes
and far surpasses all kingdoms of self and society or personal reward."
My struggle with answering the question is accompanied by my understanding that I
will have to work with this one all of my life. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges
of our day is the need to grasp the reality that our security is often inappropriately
placed in things of this world.
Others find their guarantee in title, job, degrees, or position that is partnered
with certain power.
As a country we are at war. We have a tendency during such times in our history to
put our hope and trust in Washington, the military and other institutions.
While these examples are adequate there is one other I want to suggest we take a
look at and that is the institutional church. I encounter many brothers and sisters
who seem to be so committed to their particular church or denomination that the
differentiation between church and God gets blurred. The church cannot be interchanged
with or substituted for the kingdom of heaven.
On a personal note, my answer to the question, "What 'kingdoms' do you need
to let go of before you enjoy the kingdom of heaven?" is tied to relationships.
My lifetime struggle centers on how I am connected to other people. I have to
work almost every day to keep things straight. I can enjoy, work on, and even
trust those with whom I am in relationship, but I can only believe in God!