Saturday, December 1, 2012

future and hope

Sky fall. Earth quake. Sea rise. Land crumble. All portents, all signs of the end. The end of the world as we know it.

We should be afraid – we should be consumed with anxiety – we should look to ourselves. And we should be ashamed.

Or – we should square our shoulders and hold our heads high. Await the fulfillment of time in joyful expectation.

As the people of God – as the ones who follow the Son of Man – should we not be ready to welcome his coming?

The signs of the times – they are full of upheaval, stirrings of the spirit, flames of the fanatical: rage, worry, and fear.

They are enough to make a person repent – and get ready.

Prepare ourselves for what – and who – is coming.

But we should anticipate the coming time not in fear, not in humiliation, not in sorrow or the abjection of self-contempt.

We are the people of the Savior. That is who is on his way.

We should get ready to greet his coming in joy and hope.

What Jesus holds out for us – in this in-between time between his First Coming and the consummation of all the promise of Heaven - what he holds out for us is hope.

Hope in a future made whole by the establishment of justice and made secure by the reign of peace. Hope in the divine power that makes us alive in this world (Jürgen Moltmann) and alive to his presence in it.

For God is at work in his world, already: it is his world. The God who made us is the God who redeems us, who makes us ready to greet him in the fullness and fulfillment of time.

Of course it helps to cooperate. Not such a shock that way.

Begin to enjoy the first signs of the coming summer. Jesus asks his disciples to contemplate the first leaves of the trees, the promise of ripening fruit to arrive in due season.

Go ahead. Look around. Perhaps what you are seeing is not the end of the world – but the coming to full term of what has been waiting to be born. A new way of being, a future with hope. A future for all of us, who believe and follow.

Follow the way. The way of justice, of forgiveness, of peace. The way of joyful anticipation of a future and hope.

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast even in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Romans 5:5, KJV)

How do you get ready? How are we to live, now, in the in-between time between the already and the not-yet of God's kingdom?

Knowing that God’s self-sacrificing love is the basis for all human hope (Fred Burnham) we move

·     From personal faith, that is, grasping for our selves the fact of our redemption –
·     Into obedience expressed in action in this world we live in, and
·     On toward hope in the resurrection of the body and the transformation of the whole world into the peaceable kingdom of God’s reign. (Jürgen Moltmann)

In other words, we live now in faith, knowing we are saved by grace, in confidence in God’s love for us.

We seek to express that love in loving action, seeking and serving Christ in others.

And, through all our actions, we anticipate the completion of God’s plan – his mercy and compassion made manifest and established as the rule of life for all creation.

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11)

And hope does not disappoint us, because
God has poured out his love into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us
(Romans 5:5)

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done: on earth as it already is in heaven.

CAdvent1, Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-9; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36, Romans 5:1-5, Jeremiah 29:11. 

Frederic B. Burnham, et al., eds., Love: the foundation of hope: the theology of Jürgen Moltmann and Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988. esp. p. x, p. 3-6.


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