Almost But Not Yet

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Resurrection is about a new bodily life in this world and for this world.  What they (Gospel writers) are saying is that the resurrection of Jesus means that God’s new creation has begun, and therefore we have a job to do.  Our calling then in the light of Easter is to be as it were advance foretastes of that new creation.  That is to say we are to be in ourselves both the beneficiaries of it and the agents of it. 

–N.T. Wright, Surprised By Hope

As I watch the number of deaths due to Covid-19 aired on CNN each day, I find myself thinking a lot about the topic of mortality.  With half a million deaths worldwide, and one out of four of those deaths in our own United States, it is hard sometimes not to think of one’s own mortality.  And thus, it is rather easy to think about the next life that awaits us … maybe sooner than later.  I can easily drift into the world of mortality … just ask our church staff … they hear me talk about my “readiness to die” all the time.  They pretty much ignore me now, and just roll their eyes.  But this past Sunday in our Crosspoints class, we had an engaging discussion about death and heaven.  And we took a moment to recall Dr. Wright’s words cited above.  “In this world,” you say, Dr. Wright?  “For this world,” you proposed, Dr. Wright?  Really?  Is heaven not what awaits us at the end of our days?  Is heaven not that “pie in the sky” that we yearn for when the struggles of this life finally overtake us?  Is heaven not “after” this world? 

Well, maybe not.  If Dr. Wright’s words are true, then we live in that liminal place of “almost, but not yet.”  In fact, we live in a world that desperately needs to find hope in something beyond their own desires and wishes and curiosities.  Because we have all sorely learned that what arises from our yearnings is rarely wholesome and sustaining food for the soul.  But in doing so, we cannot sell out on the world in which we live, and let it “go to hell in a handbag.”  Instead, we are called to embrace that resurrection which we count upon and trust God to deliver upon, and be voices and (dare we say) embodiments of that resurrection in this world in which we live.

Our God exists beyond time as we know it, and so we are invited to both live for that future heavenly hope, while also embodying that hope in the world in which we live — so as to invite others to share in that future and present glory.  To use Dr. Wright’s words, we are to be “both the beneficiaries of it and the agents of it.”  So, resurrection is not solely a hope for coconut cream pie forever and ever in heaven (yes, that is MY favorite pie).  But is in fact … yes … an opportunity to “have our cake and eat it too.”

What does that dually focused life look like?  Why don’t you tell me?  Leave a few words in the “comment” section of this devotional blog, and explore what this life of being “both the beneficiaries of resurrection and the agents of it” looks like.  I would love to hear from you.  Till then, consider the call to stand as if you have a foot in both worlds … the world of heaven … and the world of earth.  And believe God that you do!

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Rev. Craig Ross

Senior Pastor

The vibrancy of life here at St. Peter’s makes my service on our staff a joy and privilege. Visitation, teaching and preaching are the ministries that feed my pastoral identity, as together our staff and lay members share in our missional calling … Building a community of faith by God’s grace.

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