Now and Not Yet

| December 8th, 2023

Dear Beloved Community,

All of us who enjoyed time together this week in Mary Foskett’s “More than a Season: Advent and the Christian Life” class were given ample gifts. Not the least of which is Mary’s generous, gentle teaching, inviting us into the mystery of Advent that transcends the binaries we so often want to stuff life into and the tensions we sometimes want to overlook. In many ways, Advent as a season represents the complexities of life – the kingdom of God which is “now and not yet,” God’s hope, peace, joy, and love made real in Jesus and the wearying wait for it to be so.

Since then, I’ve let my head and heart wander toward all the places in our lives where the tensions of “now and not yet” are present, places we see goodness now but the truest, most beautiful goodness not yet fully realized.

Each morning, I sit in the warmth of my home – Christmas lights twinkling by my side,  fresh coffee in hand, the quiet of the day unfurling around me – and feel awash in gratitude for the gifts I experience in this life, yet in an flash, feel heartsick, even guilty when my heart travels to Ukraine, Sudan, and Gaza, to hospitals and hospice rooms, to divorce courts and sites of domestic violence, to cemeteries and political rallies where hopes are hung and expectations can never be realized. Now and not yet.  

I think of people whose celebration of their fullest selves isn’t yet fully known, of places where peace feels far too temporary to trust, of suffering which has been dignified but not yet relieved. Now and not yet. 

I think of seeds planted but not yet blooming, of work in progress but not yet completed, of dreams scribbled in hope but not yet brought to life, of inner transformation begun but not yet realized. Now and not yet.

My dear friend Courtney shared with our preacher friends this week the song “Workin’ on a World,” by Iris DeMent. Here’s the phrase that got us all in our feels:

I don’t have all the answers

To the troubles of the day

But neither did all our ancestors

And they persevered anyway

When I see a little baby

Reaching out its arms to me

I remember why I’m workin’ on a world

I may never see

I’m workin’ on a world I may never see

Joinin’ forces with the warriors of love

Who came before and will follow you and me

I get up in the mornin’ knowing I’m privileged just to be

Workin’ on a world I may never see

I’m workin’ on a world I may never see

God’s “now and not yet” world is a world God saw fit and right to enter, to draw as near as a child to set us free. So this Advent in the now, may we, as Iris DeMent says “join forces with the warriors of love who came before and will follow you and me,” to plant the seeds and do the work and hold the tension, waiting with joyful anticipation of the “not yet” on history’s horizon!

Together in God’s work of Love,
Pastor Emily