Already ... and not yet

(Reflection on the pray-as-you-go podcast for 12/6/2006. I tried to post this at 8 am, but blogger was down, and I'm just getting back on the computer...)

Isaiah paints a picture of the world as God intended: All people as God’s children, the shrouds that divide nations removed, every tear dried, every shame covered by God’s mercy. The problem for us is that we live in in-between times. The Lord has spoken. He will personally wipe away every tear, destroy death and include all people at his table. But we are not there yet. We are journeying on a promise, and it is hard to keep a promise so radical, so foreign to our daily experience, as our beacon.

Our world, our lives, are not as God intends them to be. Wars rend the world, and anxiety and despair plague many of us. While God will bring God’s intention to pass, Jesus invites us, today, into bringing that kingdom about now – in part.

We don’t live in a world where people’s tears are dried, where nations are not blinded and divided, where all people sit together at the Lord’s table. But if I show compassion to those who are hurting, to work for understanding rather than enmity between nations, to include “others” rather than exclude or simply avoid them, the world becomes, bit by bit, more like God intends.

We don’t live in a world where the poor, the wretched, the grieving, the not-quite-together are blessed. But if I act generously, am open to God’s presence in everyone, and work for equity, the world becomes a little more like Jesus described. The kingdom is at hand and may, for a few moments, become visible. And that vision of the destination helps keep me focused on the next steps to take.

Lord, help me to take actions today that will bring your kingdom nearer, not farther away.


Virgil Vaduva said...

Bob, this is a touching post, but if I may suggest, the "already but not yet construct" is missing on the greater purpose and reality of Christ's Kingdom, which is "not of this world." The wiping away of tears is not and should not be interpreted in a literal manner vis-a-vis the symbolic language of both the archonology and eschatology languages of Genesis and Revelation.

If I may, could I encourage you to take a look at preterist eschatology which may shed some light on the expectations of the Church and perhaps the fulfillment of those expectations?

- virgil

Andy said...

I can't help but feel pain and sorrow for St. James. I pray that God will ease us through the hard times ahead.

Bob said...

Andy -- God is already where he is calling us to be, and will be with us on the road. But it is still hard...

Virgil -- The already but not yet construct gets exactly at the "not of this world" nature of Christ's kingdom, which is realized and yet which is still birthing in our limited world. This is the vision we look to that informs each step on the journey. I'm not familiar with preterist eschatology but I'll take a look at your link...