Yesterday our youngest, Abigail, celebrated her 4th birthday with a day filled with sparkly balloons, glittery outfits and unicorns! She is crazy about unicorns at the moment. I just tucked her into bed wearing her unicorn jammies, a unicorn snap bracelet on her wrist, a unicorn headband, hugging a unicorn stuffed animal, and reading her three unicorn bedtimes stories (thank you, Google). Right now, she is the absolute picture of childlike innocence, with beaming smile, imagination running wild, and a perpetual starry-eyed glow in her eyes. Four years old—what a magical age!
So, I have my StarryEyed little girl in mind as I send my latest volume of writings to the printer I have entitled CrossEyed: Sermons & Sentiments (2019). One dictionary defines starry-eyed as “eyes sparkling in a glow of happiness, dreams, wonder.” Another dictionary describes it as entertaining many “thoughts and opinions that are unreasonably positive, so you do not understand things as they really are.” The childlike innocence we adore in a 4-year old eventually becomes the naive optimism we ridicule in adults. “You need to grow up and face reality,” we tell the starry-eyed dreamer running from real world responsibilities. Yes, we must all grow up. Yes, we need to understand things as they really are, if we are live good and productive lives. “Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns,” as the saying goes.
But who gets to define reality? Who has the best insight into the way things really are and the responsibilities we should really be concerned with? Sadly, many people grow out of their StarryEyed idealism only to embrace a worldly cynicism or lifeless realism inconsistent with the Christian Story. For the Christian, ‘maturity’ is not the abandonment of a StarryEyed idealism in order to settle for a life of drudgery and endless rehearsals in the mundane. The CrossEyed vision of the Kingdom of God is a StarryEyed utopian vision rooted not in wishful thinking, but in the cross-shaped Reality as revealed in Scripture and the Christ event.
Those who want to understand this Kingdom and enter into its gravitational pull, must first “become like a child,” Jesus said. We need to raise up a church of StarryEyed dreamers, capable of imagining the future Kingdom-in-the-making. In his inaugural sermon at the birth of the church, Peter announced the fulfillment of Joel’s prophesy that “your young men will see visions” and “your old men will dream dreams” because of the Spirit poured out on believers (Acts 2:17). We are not wishing upon a star, but building upon God’s promised future. Like Paul, the scales of conventional thinking may need to be wiped from our eyes, if we are to begin seeing the world anew through the lens of the cross. Dear Abby, the Kingdom isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, it’s so much better than that!
Just as Abigail is StarryEyed in her pursuit of flying unicorns and candy castles in the clouds, so CrossEyed disciples are unashamedly StarryEyed in their pursuit of the Kingdom-not-from-this-world. But our CrossEyed pursuit is not a naive “out of this world” or “pie in the sky” preoccupation; it is as down to earth as the prayer Jesus taught his StarryEyed disciples to pray: “Thy Kingdom come…on earth as it is in Heaven.” Let it begin with you and me today. Amen.
“Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”(Ephesians 3:20-21)
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified…For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:2; 1:18)