Sunday, January 23, 2011

The "Fringe" Gospel

In today's gospel Jesus begin the proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the rest of the gospel will be about this kingdom. But what exactly is this kingdom?

One of the errors we have fallen into is found in the popular hymn City of God, "Let us build the city of God", as if we can. The Kingdom of heaven is not something we build, it is God's creation.

I am a great fan of science fiction and I realized that the TV show Fringe, comes closest to capturing the idea. It is a show about two alternate universes, alternate realities, and the characters pass between them.

John's gospel best captures it in chapter 17 when Jesus says that the people of this world are going to hate his disciples because they are not of this world. And yet he says he does not pray for God to take them out of this world, but to protect them while they live in it.

At the moment of our baptism we were made citizens of the alternate universe called the "Kingdom of Heaven." We continue to live in this world but we need to remember it is not our home. We work to make it a better place but with a certain sense of detachment that should give us perspective. A part of the anger we hear, even in Christians, these days is born of frustration. We constantly hear voices of fear anger that this world isn't how it's supposed to be, fear of where it is headed.

A part of finding peace is a certain acceptance of the imperfection of this world. While we work for peace, justice, and unity in this world we do so accepting that we can never turn this world into the kingdom of God.

Can we glimpse the other world? yes. It was present in this world first in the person of Jesus Christ and then in his church. We touch the other world in the liturgy. In orthodox churches there are doors in the iconostasis that represent that connection of worlds. We taste other world in the Eucharist.

Jesus truly loved this world and everything in it but he never forgot, "My kingdom is not of this world."