Would you like to work in the Kremlin? Economist husband asks, and I try to imagine what they’re doing in there with their expensive black cars, armed guards, gold-curtained offices and stern faces. It sounds scary and stressful. I bet they’re all afraid of each other and self-important. It’s the last place I’d want to work, actually.
I think about the Advent service we just left – “Silent Night” carols still rolling around in my head. There were kids up on the stage, candles being lit, and readings about shepherds and magi and a light shining in the darkness – a light that the darkness has not overcome.
There are two different kings – two different kingdoms overlapping here. It makes me think about power, and I start to compare. Behind the brick walls and green towers and glowing red stars there’s one kingdom full of people who spend their whole life chasing power and control. They’re obsessed with it, and afraid of each other, I think. I can see cracks in the walls already – places where the paint is fading and the snow is melting dark spots on the red.
Then I think about the other kingdom, sitting in our car, and filling the hallway where we just sang Christmas carols. I remember “…the kingdom of God is within you and among you.”* All of us sitting on the red theater seats, with the gray apartment buildings and snowy Yauza canal out our sleet-spattered windows, reading about Mary and Josef and a baby whom angels call a savior – a heir to the throne whose kingdom will never end.
And I’m glad to be a part of the second kingdom – the kingdom that is small and among us – only just being planted now. It’s like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.**
And I like being a part of a kingdom that’s alive and growing – a tree that welcomes in, opening its’ branches and offering shelter and protection. Not a high red wall that shuts out and threatens and boils with its own fearful self-importance.
I love all the old songs – the hymns and carols played every year when our living room smells like pine needles and we stand in church on Christmas Eve, holding our white wax candles and getting goose bumps, singing about the power of a never-ending kingdom come:
*Luke 17:21, Amplified Bible