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The Already and the “Not Yet”
We in the church are often called to live in a space or time between.
Advent is season that we live in between…in anticipation of a great event but not quite there yet.
Lent is another season of living in between….in between Jesus ministry, his passion and his resurrection
And today the Church gathers around the world in yet another space between.
Just a few days ago, the Church celebrated the feast of the Ascension which we have transferred to the nearest Sunday.
The Ascension is exactly 40 days from the resurrection and on Thursday it was exactly 10 days till the feast of Pentecost and so today we find ourselves plum in the middle of once again waiting for something new to happen.
Pentecost isn’t quite here yet.
We are invited on this Ascension Sunday, this Jerusalem Sunday this Seventh Sunday of Easter to enter a period of waiting once more.
But this period of waiting is a bit different; it’s the pause between the hope of the past and the hope for the future.
It is sometimes hard to hold this space because we’re so eager to move on and find new direction.
We live in a culture that thinks Christmas begins in late October. No waiting period…just dive right there.
It is possible to treat this day as a preemptive Pentecost, but to do so misses one of the most important lessons of life.
It is the in-between that invites us to find depth and to hold the anxiety and fears of the future at bay and embrace this one moment.
If you’re like me you’ve stood at the door of a significant change in your life before.
You’ve found yourself anxious and waiting, longing for an answer or a direction in your life, you’ve experienced what psychologists and anthropologists call liminal space.
The theologian Richard Rohr describes liminal space this way: “It is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer. If you are not trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait, you will run… anything to flee this terrible cloud of unknowing.”
It’s a very natural response to the uncertainty and ambiguity of waiting time.
One finds oneself longing for the truth and structure of what was or of what will be.
Uncertainty is not easy to live with.
In some ways we find ourselves in this space as church people living in an age that sees diminishing interest in church attendance, in a time of less interest in volunteering to help out.
In many ways we are living in that reality here in our branch of Christ’s church.
We are facing a change in leadership in the music department.
After a wonderful 38 years with Fred at the helm we’re embarking on a new era.
We continue to know what the already is all about and we’re waiting for the not yet.
Some of the things we’ve always done are no longer doable in other aspects of our church life too, things that require more physical effort than our aging bones can manage.
We are in liminal space…that space between the already and the not yet. In times of uncertainty Jesus is our Guide and example.
Jesus doesn’t run away from the liminal space between his ministry and his crucifixion.
Instead, he enters into that space and he reflects on the current state of the unknown.
Jesus provides us with some idea of how to properly inhabit the space in- between the answers, between the already and the not yet.
Inhabiting the space in-between the answers is hard, but it is also most formative.
Learning to live with the paradoxes of life and faith takes spiritual maturity. During the Easter season we’ve been reading from the gospel of John.
John’s Gospel can be a little confusing for most of us to read, written well after the resurrection and probably after the destruction of the temple at the end of the first century it is almost a study in the already and the not yet.
Today’s gospel reading from Luke has him about to ascend and be reunified with the Father in heaven to receiving once again the glory that was his from the beginning of time.
He opens his followers minds to the scriptures and tells them that he is about to send the Holy Spirit but before that they must watch and wait and pray and most of all abide in his love.
He shows them the already and promises the not yet.
This Gospel passage calls the disciples to set themselves apart for God’s purposes in the world.
To watch and wait as they anticipate the coming of the Holy Spirit.
I often wonder what the church of God will look like in 10 years.
I often wonder how our church here on Riverside Drive will look in 10 years.
In the next few months we’re going to try and explore that question.
After a motion at Vestry we’re going to form a committee to look at that whole question;
What is it God has in mind for us here at Resurrection?
Riverside United has already started their process in thing called Mission Forward, where they are looking at the mission and viability of their Parish.
WE have much to contemplate about the “not yet.”
Pray that the Holy Spirit will aid and comfort us as we move forward into God’s future Amen