This is a sermon I gave in the Lutheran church in Malmö, Sweden, on the occasion of a danced mass as part of my workshop there. It is based upon the vision of “a new heaven and a new earth” in Isaiah 66:17-25.
Let us imagine the Kingdom of Heaven, promised to us on this day. Imagine knowing that the home you build shall never be invaded by another, the fruits of your labours shall never be taken by force. The body is the home we build in this life, a temple for the soul burning brightly within like a lamp on an altar. Imagine your body as a sanctuary, safe forever from assault and invasion. In the city of your body, “the voice of weeping shall no more be heard.”
“As the days of a tree are the days of my people.” Imagine a tree’s days as your days, your body as the Tree of Life, rooted deeply in the earth and passionately open to the embrace of the heavens. Imagine knowing that you can never be uprooted; no one can ever cut you down.
Imagine that the voice of longing that cries out in your heart is answered right away! God, the perfect mother, hearing your calls and answering you, her children. “They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain.” This is the kingdom of heaven, and the kingdom of heaven is within.
Can we imagine living free from fear? Free from danger that we might be forced to flee for our lives and seek refuge in faraway lands? No rape, no violence, no war: instead, “a rejoicing, and my people a joy.” All voices heard, all prayers answered, the sanctity of every home and body respected absolutely.
If we can imagine this heaven on earth, then it already exists, in our hearts and in our hands. So how can we bring it forth and make it come to pass?
We can begin by listening, and trying, ourselves, to answer as soon as we hear a call. We can offer the help and understanding we ourselves would like to receive, to all our brothers and sisters in the human family. We can respect the sanctity of one another’s peace and safety, and make sure we do nothing to destroy it. We can offer our compassion to all refugees and survivors, to the wounded and to those inflicting the wounds. We are all children of God: our needs will be met. We don’t need to attack others out of fear that someone might attack us. If we wish to live in peace, let us live in peace. As Gandhi said, “let us be the change we wish to see in the world.”
And when those leaders who represent us use our power for violent ends against our will, we must speak out for peace and justice. As we pray with passion for a world without war, without rape, without violence, let our voices be heard throughout the kingdom. This is the call that “will be answered, even as we are yet speaking.”
“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.” Our words of kindness and acts of compassion, towards ourselves and one another – they are the words of creation; they are the keys to the kingdom.