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Imagine

By Jason (Imagine No ReligionUploaded by Trockennasenaffe) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jason (Imagine No ReligionUploaded by Trockennasenaffe) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

-John Lennon

Imagine: there is no heaven, or hell, for all has been united under the loving mercy of God. We have arrived, dwelling in God with all the saints, all people of all time blossomed into the fullness of being. No countries, no boundaries, nothing to protect, to fight for or die for, just shalom, salaam, peace. No possessions, just a great human family sharing the bounty of creation. No hunger, no poverty, no outsiders.

Imagine.

And imagine there is no more religion—there are no temples, churches or mosques to go to, no groups to defend, no dogma or orthodoxy, no right way, no wrong way, the new Jerusalem is the whole world, your very life is doxology, your very breath is a participation in the heavenly chorus of praise and thanksgiving, all life is an act of praise, for we are one with him as he is one with the Father.

Imagine.

Yes, Jesus did not come, nor is he coming again, to create a religion. As we being Advent, we can remember that the coming of Christ is the end of religion. God among us, God is all and in all, Jesus is the beginning of our arriving, Jesus is the true human being. His coming again is our blossoming into the fullness of He who was in the beginning, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made of one being with the Father. The only purpose of religion, our gathering here on a Sunday morning, is not to belong to a particular club but to eagerly hope for this organization’s joy-filled end.

But, we have not arrived at the party. Sadly, we human beings create our little tribes and social constructions and build walls to defend ourselves. We have built an economic superstructure that insulates a self-appointed few to the detriment of the rest. We are plagued by war, human and ecological tragedies in Standing Rock, Ukraine, Iraq and Syria, Somalia, Congo, the oil sands. We have a society invested in our addiction to money, substances, pornography, and a world boasting a growing slave trade, human trafficking, rising temperatures, and unchecked individualism.

This past Friday was joyfully named “Black Friday.” It was expected that roughly 59% of Americans were be shopping and, that they spent over 13 billion dollars. Did you know that is about half of the $30 billion estimated to end world hunger? On that same day, UNICEF suggests that 22,000 or more children died from poverty as they do every day. Can you believe that in our world, as some lined up in malls for a new iPhone, only 1 out of every 10 people has access to safe water?

Besides this, do you know what time it is, how now is the moment for you to wake from sleep? For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light!

As we begin Advent, we are reminded that though the Kingdom has come in Christ Jesus, its fulfilment is yet to be. We are called to lay aside the works of darkness and to put on the armour of light. We still travel through the valley of death, a world of shadow. Yet, within the shadow, we have dreamers: prophets who call us to hope. Dreamers who dare to dream the impossible:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Or Malala Yousafzai:

I want poverty to end in tomorrow’s Pakistan. I want every girl in Pakistan to go to school. Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality.

Or Jack Layton:

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

Or like the Prophet Isaiah:

they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4b)

Or how about Jesus of Nazareth, who told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us? Who, on the night he was handed over to suffering and death, took bread and wine, and gave it to his friends and said “take this, eat and drink it in remembrance of me. This is my body, this is my blood. To do this, pattern your life in this way until in the fullness of time, God will reconcile all things in Christ, and make them new, and bring us to that city of light where God dwells with all His sons and daughters, through Jesus Christ our Lord, the firstborn of all creation, the head of the church, and the author of our salvation; in the unity of the Holy Spirit and the glory of God almighty, now and forever.”

But about that day and hour no one knows… therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

What a world that is going to be.

Imagine.

Gregor Sneddon

About Gregor Sneddon

Gregor Sneddon is a Presbyter in the Diocese of Ottawa and the Rector of St Matthew’s, Ottawa. He received an MA from the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies and is the founding Coordinator for Contemplative Outreach of Eastern Ontario. Gregor is a council member of the Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission and serves on the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation. He is a husband, a dad, and enjoys being in the woods, a good dinner party and swinging the blues.
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3 Responses to Imagine

  1. As soon as one believes something one has religion. Religion,meaning,-a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” God established religion ,even the bible talks about true religion “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” What man does not like about religion is God and His standards, man would rather serve the one he sees in the mirror.

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