Not long after arriving at our daughter’s home several years ago, our granddaughter, Anna, took my hand and coaxed me into the playroom. Quickly, she pulled out two small, colorful, plastic cups … reached for a small, colorful, plastic pitcher … then poured a delicious, invisible beverage into both cups. She lifted her cup (which was my cue to do likewise), sipped the invisible hot beverage (as did I), and waited for my response. “This is the finest cup of tea I’ve ever had,” I responded. She and her party made it so.
Some people wait on others to make things happen. Others just do it. Some people search the world over for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Others make these and other “inalienable rights” happen right where they are. Or, perhaps, they see the unmixed blessings right in front of them.
One of the most misunderstood phrases of both Jesus and John the baptizer is “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2, 4:17, Mark 1:15.) The way I heard it explained as a teenager indicated that everyone in Jesus’ and John’s earshot were either inherently bad or had committed some egregious mistake. Such had only a negative tone. Literally, the Greek word used for “repent” in these sayings is metanoia. Its literal translation is “change your way of thinking,” rather than “express deep remorse or something really bad is going to happen to you.” While that could be one of the implications, the bigger challenge is to “open your eyes, change your way of thinking.” It can be positive and enlivening, as well as condemning.
Next Sunday, July 7, the gospel reading contains one of my favorite insights (in Eugene Peterson’s paraphrased translation of Luke 10:8-9): [Jesus to his disciples] “When you enter a town and are received, eat what they set before you, heal anyone who is sick, and tell them, ‘God’s kingdom is right on your doorstep!’” Another way to put it is: “Open your eyes, smell the roses, embrace that which is alive before you; life in all of its fullness is right in front of you.”
I think my granddaughter, Anna, and her invisible tea party understood that. We’ll talk more about that on the 7th….