“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves, as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.” –Rainer Maria Rilke
Of the two crucified with Christ, one asked, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself, and us too.” The other called him out on it and instead replied, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus in that moment took on the sufferings of the world, gave acceptance, forgiveness and loving companionship to his suffering companion.
We come to this time, in the autumn of the year and look back at the stories of Jesus’s life among the people and wonder aloud with them, “What kind of King is this?” This Jesus is one who lives among, suffers with, and models belonging, for others’ sakes. But we, like them, were also expecting someone else. Why not a King with all the answers, one who gives us what he wants instead of what we need? However, we have a king who walked among the people, listened to their struggles, understood their yearnings, saw and appreciated their gifts. He showed them the way by being among them as Kin, thereby inviting them to “belonging.” They, as we, are invited to be the sisters and brothers of Jesus in an evolving Kin-dom of faith-filled love. “Is that so hard” we might ask? Sometimes, yes! We have issues of trust. We may have been burned sometime, or we do things differently. No two of us are alike, even from the same family or especially from the same family, or religion, workplace culture or community. WE surely are not kin with THOSE people. What are we to do?
We read the papers or watch the news. Do we all really believe that we belong together as One? We surely don’t always feel like One. We have come through this season of elections in our country, with some scars, from what we have seen, heard and felt. We and our companions may have scars from our hopes being unrealized or incomplete. In this season of dissatisfaction and uncertainty, we may need to pray for a while with one hand holding the bible and the other holding the newspaper. There are no easy answers.
Daily we are called to attention with news of climate refugees, experiencing war with accompanying chaos, displacement and violence. News awakens us daily to the sufferings of immigrants, detainees, trafficked persons along with racial profiling, poverty, religious persecution and murders of innocents. Areas around the world experience severe drought and fires as others experience hurricanes, flooding and loss of lives as well as their homes, livestock and trees. Others lose heart due to, loss of health, jobs and income due to diminishment of coal, increase of fracked gas pipelines, the corruptness of politics or banks. The sacredness of natural resources of water, land and fresh air are forgotten by many and prayed for by others who seek miracles. Do we need a shepherd, a king, a president or a community of kin who follows their Christ? What’s a People to do?
What kind of King is this Jesus whom we follow? And as we follow him, with whom do we travel, where are we going, and with whom do we stand? Can we hope against hope and believe? Our father and kinsman Abraham, in the eyes of God, hoped against hope and believed, becoming the leader of nations. Where would he have been without his beloved Sarah, who laughed? Rough times call for a full and loving heart and real presence. We come from a big family of Kinfolk who dared to believe and to follow their Kinsman King, Jesus. Among them are poets and preachers, musicians, activists, teachers, ailing and healthy, rich and poor. Each play a part. Without one another, what’s the world gonna do?
Activist Jesse Jackson used to shout, “Keep Hope Alive!” The poet Jan Richardson in her poem Rough Translations says:
Hope nonetheless. Hope despite. Hope regardless. Hope still…Hope takes us past our fear. Hope that calls us into life. Hope that holds us beyond death. Hope that blesses those to come.
The man who hung next to Jesus on the cross asked Jesus, the King of the Jews, to remember him when he came into his kingdom.
Pope Francis, speaking at his own Installation, said that, Jesus brought about his kingdom through his closeness and tenderness.
Sounds like Kin to me. How about you? Ours is a relationship worth celebrating.