I haven’t done this before, but I wanted to share with you a spoken word poem I wrote for my church’s service today. It’s inspired by Daniel 7 in the Old Testament of the Bible which provides an apocalyptic vision that speaks to the empires of this world and how they threaten to consume us.
The notion of “Empire” can be construed as the economic, political, and social systems of this world which exploit people, neglect their needs, silence their voices. These systems are historically-rooted and inextricably wedded to the ultimate system of Sin which oppresses every single one of us. It does this by distancing us from our Creator God who loves us and wants us to be in right relationship with Him and with others.
We experience the damage these empires inflict on our communities everyday because their symptoms are racism, homelessness, poverty, homophobia, nationalism, and more pains than I can even begin to diagnose. The communion God designed for humanity is left distorted and broken, and we fail to love and care for our neighbors well.
There are also empires of the heart which trap us when we fixate on our unmet desires, convinced our world will fall apart unless we continue accumulating and maintaining our relationships and jobs and wealth and social power. The anxiety of losing any of these things plagues us, and we are never satisfied.
The kingdoms of this world leverage our deep and legitimate desires for security, connection, comfort, and love to sustain themselves, but in the end, they leave us empty, hollow. Our money, our racial pride, our politicians, our families, and even our activism cannot save us.
Only Jesus can do that. This Jesus ushers in a new kingdom that is “anchored in the eternal,” as my friend Robert Guerrero put it, and so must we be. In the new kingdom, we lay aside the temptation to root ourselves in our desires and instead surrender them to God. In the new kingdom, we lay down the temptation to cancel our neighbors, and instead we hold to both love and accountability in how we interact with them. In the new kingdom, we surrender our individualistic quest for goodness and fulfillment to embrace a new reality where God is the source of all goodness and Jesus is the fulfillment of all the intimacy and love and purpose we crave for.
Join me in stepping into the new Reality. God is waiting for you.
Here’s a YouTube link for the poem in case the video below doesn’t work on your browser.
Here’s the full poem:
as a child I loved to read
Greek mythology, fingers racing
along yellowed pages of a library book
that took me on adventures through
a Realm of Monsters, minotaurs and
serpents of the deep, reaping
human souls from those who dared
to draw close
now I’m one older who knows
I no longer need myths to see monsters
I just have to turn on the news
There I see the Beasts of this Age, staging
their traps to capture human souls
who dare to draw close,
drawn in by the promise of prosperity
the prospect of popularity
so we forge solidarity with the Beasts of
Greed, of Need, of the desires seeded
within us that haven’t been sated
we’re baited by lesser gods that
tell us we’re in control even as they
are swallowing us whole, and we are
in our prisons we lose our skins
and forget what it means to be human
we forget our neighbors
we lose our voices
we surrender our names
injustice reigns, and ever the Beasts stalk us
but we prayed for deliverance
and a promise made myth
broke through the clouds one day with
thunder to steal back what the Beasts
had plundered–us, and restore what
had been lost
the myth from ancient days raised
an Ancient of Days who paved a
new kingdom never to be destroyed
out of the void, we find our voices again
and step into the Call of Eternity
joining with the Son of Man
so all our family can be freed
the myth fades into the shadowed past
this is our new Reality
loving and beloved by
the One who reigns with all authority