On any given night in any season, there is a crowd outside at The Common Market down the street from where I live. HH and I aren’t really cool enough to live in this neighborhood, but we feel at home on this street mainly because of The Common Market. It feels like what I imagine The Reign of God is like.
You can get a sandwich, locally roasted coffee, a craft beer or a PBR and sit with friends and strangers on the patio. You can choose a bottle from The Wall of Saki or stocking stuffers that remind me of Toy Joy in Austin. (I’m talking about the old Toy Joy on Guadalupe in the building lined with plastic nuns on the roof.)
You might meet bankers or dishwashers, firefighters or college students. There are people on dates and friends meeting after work and strangers sharing a table. It’s the kind of place I can leave my dog with someone while I run in to grab some crackers.
Especially on these Advent nights, I think of shepherds and angels as I pass by walking the dog. I think of Lydia and Timothy and Tamar and Esther. They are all there in the Common Market. The lowly and the powerful. The sober and the not-so-sober.
Some might pass by and never consider stepping closer. It sometimes looks dangerous on that patio and yet the community watches out for each other to the point that it feels like the safest place in the world.
The reign of God is like a mustard seed, a pearl, and yeast. It’s like a hidden treasure and it’s like the City of God. It’s at hand and it’s not yet.
May this last week of Advent from The Longest Night to the Birth of Christ in a humble cave offer a glimpse of the Reign of God for you and those you love this week.
Sometimes it’s not what we expect. In fact, it’s usually nothing like what we expect.