Grace and Peace from the Mystery in whom we live and move and have our being.
It is your Father’s good pleasure to GIVE you the kingdom” …and… “He will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them.”Luke 12:32-40
God’s good pleasure
God’s good pleasure. Is that how you were brought up to think about God? God finding good pleasure in humanity and earthly things… God coming to us in a pleasing way. Is that how God is portrayed by populist American Christianity these days? A God who is pleased with us and in dealing with us?
Somehow I don’t remember Jonathan Edwards ever giving a famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of a God Who is Pleased.”
And not only is giving us the kingdom pleasing to God, God wants to serve it to us. Hand it to us on a platter.
“He will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them.”
Wait, don’t we have to work for it? Don’t we have to prepare and repent, submit and humble ourselves?
“Truly I tell you, he (the master) will fasten his belt and have them (the servants) sit down and eat, and he will come and serve them.”
Ok, if you insist God. I will submit to being served. It seems too good to be true. Yet, here it is.
So how can a master who comes to serve be equated to a thief in the night? What could a master who serves us possibly be stealing from us?
Well, other than our desire to earn that service from the master.
“It is your Father’s good pleasure to GIVE you the kingdom.”
As wonderful as grace is, we must first admit…it steals.
It steals our desire to be in control. It steals our longing for ‘free will.’ It steals our desire to be ‘god-like’ and the final arbiter of good and evil.
It simply takes everything out of our hands.
And once it has been taken away, it can be given back…as a gift.
You see, once the kingdom has been given to us, there is no such thing as ‘my possessions.’
The only thing I can go and sell is what has always been given to me. When everything is seen as a gift from God, ‘my possessions’ is a contradiction, an oxymoron. Or maybe it’s a falsehood redundancy, because there is no more ‘my’ and there are no more ‘possessions.’
Thanks, but no thanks
So you see, it is God’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom – the problem is we don’t necessarily want it. Especially after we have spent our entire lives building up our own kingdoms. And anything that intrudes on our kingdoms, anything that threatens our kingdoms, anything that might take away from our kingdoms…is like a thief in the night.
Or as Jesus might say: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
thief in the night gives and takes
And so there is a thief-y quality to the kingdom. It does take away. It does destroy the old categories and demarcations. It even destroys the luxury of self-indulgent worry…which we have built our life and culture on.
But that is not something to fear – “Do not be afraid little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
The thief doesn’t leave us empty handed. We are given a new way of living. A new kingdom. One that pleases God much more than the one we are living in now.
It’s a different kind of security. Based not on what we have or can possess, but based on the giver of all life.
Let’s face it, it isn’t just our purses that wear out. We wear out. And when we see ourselves as the ultimate purse in which everything we have must be poured into, then all others and all things become either thieves or moths that seek to take away or destroy us.
An unfailing treasure
But when our security is based on the author and giver of life, others are not thieves or moths. They are my brothers and sisters from the Heavenly Giver. And the very purse we see ourselves as being becomes not a place of hoarding and protection, but a source of giving – ‘an unfailing treasure’ of the Kingdom.
I wonder if a better translation of what Jesus is trying to get at would be: “Make purses OF yourselves that do not wear out,” rather than “make purses FOR yourselves.”
That is what this meal is all about, isn’t it? This Jesus, who saw the purse that was his life as a source of giving, not as a place of hoarding and protection.
“This is my body, GIVEN for you. This is my blood, POURED OUT for you.”
Even in the night in which he was betrayed, it was the Father’s “good pleasure” to give his kingdom to us.
EVEN IN THE NIGHT HE WAS BETRAYED, “He will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them.” And according to John’s gospel, even wash their feet first.
Talk about coming at an unexpected hour.
It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom
In the night of betrayal and denial. In the days of fear and doubt. This is when the Son of Man comes and the Father is pleased to give us his Kingdom.
I want to conclude with some more words from Sheri Brown. I’m going to paraphrase a little, but I think still stay true to what she wrote, and yet put it into the context of today’s Bible passage:
My God, my God – how possessed I have become by my possessions. How consumed I am by my earthly treasures, how addicted I am to all kinds of greed.
Teacher, teach me to be on guard. Teacher, tell me one more time about the Father’s kingdom. Reveal the holy ground in which I live and move and have my being. Raise me up as an adopted heir of God and God’s kingdom. Renew in me your gift of abundant life. This revelation of being, this belonging, this life in Christ … that’s the Father’s kingdom for all of us.
There’s nothing to divide. It’s not divisible. There’s nothing to hoard. It’s not storable. So let’s wear our Christ selves everywhere, pouring out all the Kingdom’s treasures, lavishly spending all of God’s riches, extravagantly loving all our brothers and sisters, being outrageously rich to the One who enriches us.
Go ahead and spend the Kingdom’s treasure – all of it – everyday. There’s always more where it came from. Thanks be to God who abundantly produces all being and all belonging, and all life.Sheri Brown
Wednesday Respite is a 30-min contemplative service of scripture, prayer, music and a Spirited Touchpoint by Spirit in the Desert faith mentor, Rev. “Bro. Jim” Hanson.
Touchpoint is a reflection on where God’s story touches our life story. It is a short homily based on a biblical story of people in the Old and New Testaments and their relationship with God. Our spiritual ancestors’ experience of God’s grace connects with our lives in the present and our relationship with the Divine. Previous Touchpoints are available as PDFs or on SoundCloud.