Wednesday, January 04, 2006

01/01/06, Sermon

To understand the Kingdom of God, which I’m calling “the Way of God,” as I do is to believe unquestionably in magic. “Live aligned with the way of God, identified with the way of God, and magic will happen.” That’s the cornerstone to my faith and my theology. It’s magic, all the way.

And, it is completely unpredictable. You have no idea what you’re going to get. It’s better than Christmas morning. Live a life that is integral to, that is integrated with, the way of God, and be surprised. You will be surprised because you will never know what’s going to happen. This puts me a full 180 degrees away from those who say, “Want a pink Hummer? Pray for a pink Hummer.” I say, live a life of integrity—a life that is integral with that which is deepest, truest, and best about you—and your life will take it from there. Maybe you will like it, and maybe you won’t, but it isn’t about your liking it. It’s about living toward the best you can imagine and letting the outcome be the outcome.

If you have AIDS, for instance, the way of God isn’t the sure path to a cure. You don’t sign on in order to be cured. You simply live with AIDS the way God would live with AIDS. You live the best life possible given the restrictions and limitations that AIDS imposes on you, and let that be that. Magic will happen, but you may not be cured. You probably won’t be cured. It isn’t about being cured. It’s about bringing magic to life in the world, and seeing what happens.

The way of God—the way God would do it—is the way of justice and compassion; the way of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, faithfulness and self-discipline.” It is the way of “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

The way of God is characterized by a certain drift of spirit, a certain cant of soul, a certain quality of life, a certain perspective, a certain orientation to the good. It is recognized by a certain presence, an attentive, caring presence. It sees with the eyes of compassion into the heart of things. It knows how things are and how they also are. It knows what is, and what also is. And, it responds to the moment of its living out of its recognition of the needs of the moment and out of the particular gifts it brings to the moment. It lives to redeem the moments of its living by bringing to life in each moment all of the hope, love, joy, goodness, etc. that the moment is capable of producing, receiving, bearing.

The way of God is not going to organize the world of normal, apparent reality according to someone’s (your) idea of how things should go. It’s a mess now. It will be a mess then. The way of God doesn’t iron out wrinkles, or clean up messes, or disappear problems. You think Jesus had it easy? You don’t take up the way of God to ease your way. You take up the way of God, and you deal with your problems the way God would deal with your problems. But, you are still going to have problems.

The way of God is not the way to get what you want. It is not a shortcut to prosperity. It is not a slick strategy for catapulting into the life of your dreams. It is simply the way of bringing your best to bear upon each moment of your life and letting the outcome be the outcome. You may not like it. Jesus wasn’t what you would call real happy with it. But, magic will happen. The world is transformed one magical moment at a time because of the way some people have lived their lives. Well, okay, maybe not THE world, but some world, someone’s world is transformed one magical moment at a time because of the way some people have lived their lives.

Each one of us can think of the difference that someone made in our lives. Our lives are different, better, you might say transformed, because of the crucial influence of a very small number of people. Where would we be without them? And, the impact they had was not calculated, premeditated, planned. They probably have no idea of the good they brought to life in our lives. They were just being who they were. They may not even have been trying to incarnate the best they could imagine. The way of God can happen unintentionally, one might say accidentally. The impact is most certainly accidental. Unintentional. Magical. We strive to live as God would in our place—we try to do it better than God could do it—and something happens. Something magical. Unpredictable. Transformative. And we may not like it. Sometimes, that’s the way magic is.

We serve the good for the sake of the good. Whose good is served by the good we serve? How good is the good that serves only our good? And so, the Way of God is the way of learning to be good for nothing. It is the way of learning to do what is good even if it doesn’t do us any good, even if it isn’t good for us, even if there is nothing in it for us. The first question is not the question about our benefit, our advantage, our gain or loss. The first question is what does the moment need? What is the moment asking of us? What do we have to offer? What do we bring to the moment? How can we help the moment in its unfolding toward the good? How can we bring the good to life in the moment of our living—whether it does us any good or not? The New Year is as good a place as any to begin asking, and answering, the questions. And, to begin living so as to bring magic to life in our lives, and be surprised.

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