We had a great time on Wednesday. All our girls - daughters and grand-daughters - were with us and we went off into London to visit two sites - the Occupy London Stock Exchange camp at St Paul's and the Christmas market on the South Bank.
I was hugely impressed with the Occupy LSX site. It's well organised, clean and very friendly. We spent some time at the tent university, chatting about the revised general assembly's economics working statement with a couple of the people who hold things together there.
I was invited to come and do a session on New Testament economics, something I hope to do in the New Year. There was an openness to fresh thinking and debate about ideas that was really refreshing. Here is a group of people looking for a new world. I was reminded of the context into which Jesus came - a world of injustice, dominated by a powerful one per cent, a world at war, a world where the poor are disenfranchised and struggle to make ends meet (sound familiar?).
It seems to me that during Advent we should be asking questions about where our world is going and how it is going to be renewed. Some have pitted the Occupy LSX group with the church on whose doorstep it is camped. But this is a huge mistake.
As I chatted with occupiers, I was reminded of the encounter Jesus had with a teacher of the Law about what really mattered (which is the greatest commandment). The encounter ends with Jesus saying to the man that he's not far from the Kingdom of God (Mark 12:28-34).
What strikes me about this conversation is the sense of the Kingdom's porous borders, of the fact that the Kingdom is looking to sweep into its embrace all who are looking for a new world. I am also struck by the fact that Jesus is open to insights from those who are apparently his enemies or at least those who are challenging his right to interpret the way things are. The teacher of the Law says that love of neighbour is more important than religious rectitude and Jesus says 'you're not far from the Kingdom.' I suspect he would say the same thing to the mixed and energetic group camped around the steps of St Paul's.
At advent we listen for the voice of the Kingdom - wherever it comes from.