“But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.”
Paul waits. As the parousia seems to be delayed, he is becoming more patient. He is waiting for the Cosmic Christ, the Risen One, who will bring all things to completion—a new heaven and a new earth. Paul senses that the Creator is flaring forth and that the cosmos is evolving into what it already is—a new heaven and a new earth. It is far from perfect when Paul writes but he sees it coming.
In the words of Isaiah, evolutionary transformation will occur as John the Baptist—the new Elijah—prepares the way for the Christ, the Messiah, the Risen One:
A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
Paul announces that the chief characteristic of the new heaven and new earth will be righteousness—justice where right order in the cosmos will be established. I almost said “restored.” Science clearly tells us that there was no Fall which calls for redemption.
From the very beginning the cosmos and all in it has been evolving toward justice. Martin Luther King said, “The universe bends toward justice.”
Mark introduces a geopolitical dimension to the Gospel—the Good News of the Christ. The proclamation of Evangelion—good news—was reserved to the emperor and things of empire. From the very beginning, Mark is in your face with empire. Mark is challenging the fact that only the emperor can announce Good News. The Risen Christ announces Good News which challenges empire to the core because, unlike the emperor, the Christ is not about conquest, domination and power. The Christ is all about justice, righteousness, love and non-violence.
I said geopolitical because the Good News has always been about politics—life in the polis (city). Christian life in the polis is all about living Gospel values which very often are not the values proclaimed by empire. Christianity in the polis is about much more than “In God We Trust” on buildings and license plates. It is about more than Ten Commandment bumper stickers. It is about much more than proclaiming Jesus as one’s personal savior. Christianity in the polis is about justice. We are called to establish right order based on right values.
The values associated with justice are mercy, compassion, forgiveness and sharing and caring for the resources the Living One has given us. The values of empire are consumption, greed, exploitation of others and natural resources, violence and power.
The XL pipeline from Alberta where the tar Sands oil is to the Gulf of Mexico is a current prime example. The extraction of the low-grade oil is destroying the natural environment in Alberta, Canada. The process consumes huge amounts of water and natural gas. The tailings—the leftovers—are toxic and are poisoning the environment. The pipeline will transverse sensitive environmental areas in our country—including the third largest watershed in the world. The entire project offers new possibilities for spills and destruction of the environment.
Thousands of people demonstrated around the White House and the administration delayed the decision. Hundreds were arrested. Now, once again holding the American people hostage to greed and profit, Republicans in the House want to tie approval of the pipeline to the tax cut on Social Security. Destroying our nest for profit is not about justice and Kin-dom values, regardless of what Republicans believe about our delicate relationship to the environment. Drill, baby, drill is far from being a biblical mandate! For more information on the XL Pipeline see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkwoRivP17A.
Justice is about life and life in abundance. It is about ending war, nuclear war, abortion, capital punishment. Justice is about respecting the cosmos. Proclaim the Good News from the rooftops. “Prepare ye the path of the Christ.” Create a new heaven and a new earth now.