Thursday, April 17, 2008

brian mclaren and the prince of denmark

i'm getting into the heart of everything must change, brian mclaren's stunning book. i'm not being a cutesy critic by using that word, "stunning". i am stunned:
if we believe that jesus came in peace the first time, but that wasn't his "real" and decisive coming--it was just a kind of warm-up for the real thing--then we leave the door open to envisioning a second coming that will be characterized by violence, killing, domination, and eternal torture...this eschatological understanding of a violent second coming leads us to believe...that in the end, even God finds it impossible to fix the world apart from violence and coercion; no one should be surprised when those shaped by this theology behave accordingly. (pg 144)
my house is a mess this morning, as is my mind, as is my country and world. as i ponder, i'm remembering the first time i saw a production of Hamlet. i was also stunned then: i didn't speak for an hour after the curtain call, and i went back the next night. how did the prince respond to truth-tellings like mclaren's?

There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave
To tell us this.

Why, right; you are i' the right;
And so, without more circumstance at all,
I hold it fit that we shake hands and part:
You, as your business and desire shall point you;
For every man has business and desire,
Such as it is; and for mine own poor part,
Look you, I'll go pray.
(Act I Scene V)

we need time apart to discern in order that we might respond instead of reacting. god keep us angry enough to keep at our work of kingdom building and reconciliation, and hopeful enough to bind our wounds, plan and pray our actions, not lash out.

the discussion of the second coming made me think of a central prayer in our rituals, what we call the memorial acclamation:

christ has died
christ is risen
christ will come again

thoughtful friends, seminary trained and otherwise, tell me what you think:
given the pervasive ideas of a second coming so violent that it wipes out the life-giving and revolutionary first one, how would it be if we changed the prayer?

christ had died
christ is risen
christ is all around

or "christ is with us now"
or "christ is within us now"
or "christ will return, in our hearts, as soon as we let him..."