In the light of the Global Prayer initiative Thy Kingdom Come I have been pondering what it means to pray those words, and how they challenge and inform my walk of discipleship.
So, what does it mean to pray for the kingdom of God to come? When I look into my head for images surrounding the word kingdom I perhaps reach for that childhood fairytale image of a castle, a fortification on a hill or surrounded by a moat a place of safety, but also a place of exclusion, the moat and the drawbridge, the battlements and ramparts designed to keep the unwanted and the outsider away! Stretching my imagination a bit further and I find myself engaging with national borders and images of empire, again the presence of boundaries and barriers mark the edges, there are those who belong and those who don’t.
I wonder if that is why so many of us struggle with kingdom language? Certainly as a feminist and having done some liberation theology around the unhelpfulness of the language I can make an argument for using different imagery, but it is there in the prayer that many of us can say without thinking or reference to the printed page. Your kingdom come! So how do we pray it with integrity and honesty and openness of heart and soul?
Certainly Jesus uses unlikely images of hidden treasure, something to be desired and searched for, yearned for even, images of growth, mustard seed faith full of possibilities, of yeast that permeates a whole batch of flour causing dough to rise. He speaks of receiving the kingdom as a little child, expectant, open and vulnerable. This kingdom it seems has limitless boundaryless possibilities for those who dare to enter it. ( See Matthew 13)
It reminds me of a wisdom tale of those who were searching for the water of life, looking to subdue it with magic, to conquer it with power, or to purchase it with riches, but the spring of the water of life turned out to be a tiny stream, and those who sought it needed to lay aside their magic cloak, suit of armour and bags of money in order that they could kneel and drink. Humility, as Pope Francis has pointed out is the only way for us to encounter great power, for without humility we do violence to ourselves and to others. We cannot enter the kingdom of God by force, we must receive it with humility, gentleness and respect.
To pray “Thy kingdom come”, is to put my preferences aside, and more it is to choose to willingly enter into another way of being, to allow God to drop a pebble of love into the pool of my life and to sense the ripples spreading out of my selfish centre to touch the world in prayer.
To pray “Thy kingdom come” is to seek the good of the whole, to see that mustard seed faith, or the work of yeast, or the pearl of great price is to be found in unlikely places and people, and not just to see it but to celebrate it.
To pray “Thy kingdom come” means dropping my boundaries and defences, to enter into life holding my brokenness and to walk with others who dare to do the same so that as we journey together we might journey towards true peace and healing and hold that out to others who may, as yet be unable, or even unwilling to begin that journey themselves, to acknowledge that we all hold but fragments of the whole, and we need one another no matter what our gender, sexuality, race or creed!
To pray “Thy kingdom come” is to acknowledge that I am accepted not because I am good, but because God is good ( Richard Rohr), and finding the miracle that here is the truth that sets me free from the burden of trying to live up to my own perfectionism, and allows me to live into my possibilities!
To pray “Thy kingdom come”, is to pray for limitless possibilities, for more than I could ever ask or imagine, to pray not for a work of God but to enter into it in such a way that our lives become an active prayer as we respond to the move of the Spirit within and around us….
To pray “Thy kingdom comes”, is to seek simplicity, to be open to change, to seek peace and mercy, to love justice, and to walk confidently, yet humbly with the Divine, the one who holds the end from the beginning and knows us more intimately than we can begin to imagine….
To pray “Thy kingdom come” should make me an agent of the God flavours and God colours in this world….
To pray “Thy kingdom come” will ultimately affect how I live, my relationships with others, family, and friends, local and global, and those I might have once considered my enemies! ( It should even affect my politics)
Thy kingdom come Lord, on earth as it is in heaven….