Lassoing the Kingdom

I like to wash dishes.  Hold on…  Before you invite me over to stand at your kitchen sink, let me qualify that statement.  I often like to wash my dishes.

The stack of dishes in my cupboard is an eclectic collection of gems from various thrift stores around Philadelphia.  And, oh, how I love them!  There is the one with the yellow flowers.  There is the one with deep blue painted patterns and a gold rim that is too small for anything but a cookie.  There is the one that is more lightweight than the rest–the one I’m afraid I’ll break one of these days–which is wrapped with vintage pink glazed.

I don’t have too many repeats in the collection, which makes them even more fun to wash.  Each has a different feel–weight, glaze, color, size and shape.  For me, it’s cathartic to run the sponge over the edges and around the middle, before turning the plate over and giving the back a quick swirl.  After rinsing the debris away, I admire the rainbow of plates as they dry.

Perhaps my favorite part about washing the dishes, though, is the act of remembering who has eaten from these plates.  One of my favorite memories comes from last summer.  Dear friends came over for dessert.  Before they arrived, I said a simple prayer, asking that our fellowship would be so great that the Kingdom in its fullness might draw a bit closer to us.  And, about an hour later, after at first shuffling, then savoring bites of flourless chocolate cake and homemade vanilla bean ice cream, I paused.  I took a moment to note the depth of joy in my heart–the product of conversation mingled with wine and dessert.  I smiled.  Then, I giggled.

I shared with my friends, what was on my mind: “I feel like we’ve just thrown a lasso around the Kingdom and pulled it closer to us.”

Let me explain.

My eschatology has been influenced some by Jürgen Moltmann as read and interpreted by my dear friend Josh.  Without considering the ramifications of holding such a theology, I will present to you what I imagine.

I don’t really know about heaven and whatnot, but I know that Jesus talked a lot about the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God.  There’s this idea out there that the Kingdom both is here but is not yet.  Basically, that means we can catch glimpses of the Kingdom-goodness that Jesus talked about, but we can also look around us and see sin and pain and suffering and things that make us feel horrible inside–and we know that there must be something more out there to hope for in the end, because this is horrible.

Biblical examples of the kingdom being here are lame and blind people being healed, many being fed, and forgiveness being offered as once-despised persons rejoin the community.  Modern examples are similar: people being healed, people sharing food, and people being restored to community.

So, for now, we live in a dual reality.  The overarching reality is that God reigns.  We can catch glimpses of beautiful things that point us toward this truth.  But, our present reality is also affected by great injustice, and we know that the Kingdom–as we experience it–is not yet in its fullness.  So, we hope for it.

And, it’s in the future somewhere.  But, it’s not waiting for us.  It’s rushing toward us, even as time carries us toward it.  Yes, rushing toward us!  Doesn’t that make you smile?

And so, with this in mind, why not throw a lasso around the Kingdom in the middle of dessert, and give it a big ol’ yank closer to our present reality?

Ignore the potential holes in the above theology, and enjoy the imagery.  And, be inspired to live into the Kingdom, allowing it to be an ever-more present part of our current reality.


2 Responses to “Lassoing the Kingdom”

  1. joshuawalters Says:

    Beautiful story, Heather. I wish I had been there! While I love your imagery and I know that you are not making a strict analogy with the act of lassoing, but I couldn’t help but think that many people would be alarmed by your metaphor (not me). I imagine that many people would dislike the idea of “bringing the kingdom” by our own merit in the act of “lassoing.” I realize this is not what you mean necessarily, and yet it is the constant tension in many discussions regarding eschatology and the KOG: what role do WE play?

    There is something mysterious about the role we play. Here you explain how you made the conscious effort to practice hospitality and in the midst of this you felt as though you experienced the KOG. And yet, you also say that the KOG is rushing toward us from the God’s future. Did you experience the KOG by your own efforts or because the Spirit of Jesus was there among you?

    There is no “easy” answer and I believe that the KOG is manifest where God’s will is done on earth as in heaven, which seems to point to the need for our action. Perhaps God honors our hearts when we do things and allows the KOG to come rushing into the present for a moment of prolepsis.

    • joshuawalters Says:

      p.s. So maybe it’s more like God lassos US into God’s future because our hearts our open/willing, etc. And in THAT moment God’s future transforms the present time/space into the KOG.

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