In the Our Father we pray that God’s kin*dom come and God’s will be done. These simple parallel phrases invite the consummation and fulfillment of all things in God and the transforming social vision this implies. This retreat writes the word kingdom as kin*dom to trouble the word for our time as Jesus troubled it for his time when he died in shame and powerlessness. Removing the ‘g’ in kingdom frees the word from its reference to kings, governing, and conquering and transforms it into a vision of human beings actualizing our potential for common bonds.
As God’s kin and kind, we mirror in our desire for expanding wholeness and lasting love the image of God who is not far away and self-contained but irrepressibly loving and creative, caring as deeply for us as parents for their children. God’s life is an ongoing, outgoing, life-giving intercommunion of three persons in one. God’s being is love. The fire in which we live and which lives inside us is love.
God’s love for us is our common ground. We all exist in this relationship. As God’s kin and kind we are made for relationship with each other. We are social. We flourish in families, friendships, marriages, teams, choirs, tribes, communities. Like God, we live in interdependent love with one another. God did not make us for gated and guarded isolation but for holy communion.
Jesus tells parables about the kin*dom to open the mystery in which we live, to reveal our capacity for community and how it grows among us and in us. The kin*dom of God is like seed that a farmer plants and that sprouts and grows while he sleeps. The kin*dom of God is also like a mustard seed that grows into a tree of life, a home where birds build nests in its branches. Jesus himself embodies the kin*dom and brings it among the people in his actions of healing the sick, freeing the possessed, and welcoming the poor and outcast into his company.
The kin*dom of God demands the same decisions about values that we make every day when we buy and sell. It is like selling all one has to buy a field with a treasure in it. It is like a woman kneading leaven into flour, trusting her work will transform the ingredients into nourishment for her family. The kin*dom requires faith in the Spirit of God loose among us. It requires making sure the least among us has food, clothing, shelter, company, health care, for Jesus identifies with the least of his kin.
Jesus raises the question “Who are my kin” when a crowd tells him his mother and brothers are outside asking for him. He looks at all the people gathered around him and insists, “Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3.31-35). The community who hears and does the word and will of God is the kin*dom.
What then is God’s will? Sometimes we assume we know. People often say, “It’s God’s will” when they accept something they can’t change: a death, an illness, a tragedy of nature. Accepting God’s will can express a hope that in the larger picture of God’s plan things will turn out, that the suffering or tragedy will have a reason. We want to trust Someone has a plan in the unfurling history in which we live. Jesus accepts God’s will when he prays just before his arrest to be spared the cup of suffering he sees unfolding ahead.
God’s will for Israel was expressed in the Ten Commandments: becoming a people who worship God and reveal God to other nations; who respect one another’s lives, relationships, reputations, and property; who make community with one another. As a good Jews, Jesus kept the Commandments. But Jesus expands on God’s will for us in calling to love one another, to forgive each other seventy times seven times, to love even our enemies, and to insure the poor and the least among us can live.
Today science helps us recognize that creation itself reveals God’s will. The new science finds God’s plan in the cosmic energy that drives toward greater complexity and consciousness. Science finds an inner law in every life form that drives it to become all it can be. The will of God in this context is not obedience but becoming, not conformity in a closed system but generous creative participation in giving birth to all we can become as a vast, holy whole, evolving toward Spirit.
Kin*dom describes the world as interconnected and open toward mystery. In this context we live our few moments. How do we participate in bringing God’s kin*dom from heaven to earth? We bring the kin*dom when we go beyond ourselves in love, in hospitality, in justice, and weave those among whom we live and work into community.
How does taking the ‘g’ out of kingdom help you reflect on Jesus’ meaning in this part of the prayer he gave his disciples? How does seeing humans as part of the cosmic whole make us more aware of what God’s will is for us? Tell your own stories of going beyond yourself in love, hospitality, or justice to make kin and community of strangers.
Use ‘Thy kin*dom come’ as a prayer today. Pray it whenever you see a person bringing Jesus’ kin*dom of community and justice to our world. Use newspapers, the internet, and television to extend your recognition of kin*dom building to communities beyond your own.