I found these final chapters very compelling. They are marked with a lot of underlining.
I especially appreciated McLaren’s handling of the Book of Revelation as apocalytpic, a book full of “warnings and promises.” How true! And how much more the book means to me when read in that light rather than one that is foretelling the future like some crystal ball, to the extent where one looks behind every bush for the mark of the beast. One of my favorite quotes in this section is
If we believe the warning and promises, we won’t persist in doing evil or being complacent, but we will persist in doing good and being fruitful, even if it’s hard.
The last chapter, Seeing the Kingdom, made my heart leap for I understood the feelings he wrote about. Interesting though, were those he quoted to explain them. For example, McLaren quotes writer Huston Smith to explain “the longing” many people have that causes them to search and search until the longing is satisfied.
There is within us – in even the blithest, most lighthearted among us – a fundamental dis-ease…Whethere we realize it or not, simply to be human is to long for release from mundane existence with its confining walls of finitude and mortality. The Good News…is that that longing can be fulfilled.
And by C.S. Lewis:
We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bath in it, to become part of it…
And by Frederick Beuchner:
What [Jesus] seems to be saying is that the Kingdom of God is the time, or a time beyond time, when it will no longer be humans in their lunacy who are in charge of the world but God in His mercy who will be in charge of the world.
We catch glimpses of heaven. When we do, it is like the brush of a whisper against your cheek. Or the ache in your heart for your beloved. You feel it. Then it disappears. But you long to recapture the feeling, the sight, the moment. It is just beyond your grasp. You know it is there…if only…you…could…just touch it. Those are rare moments. Glorious ones. Blessings.
Yet, the Kingdom is at hand. Each moment we step into the Nave, entering into prayer with the words “Father Bless!” Or prayerfully sing during Vespers
O Gladsome Light of the holy glory of the immortal Father, heavenly holy, blessed Jesus Christ, now that we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the Light of Evening, we praise God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For meet it is at all time to worship Thee with voices of praise O Son of God and Giver of Life. Therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.
And my most favorite of all, St. Symeon’s Prayer:
Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, O Lord, according to Thy word. For my eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared in the sight of all peoples, the light of revelation for the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.
Yes, the Kingdom of God is at hand. Look around you. Draw a breath after a spring rain. And hold your neighbor’s hand. It is there.