Sunday, July 15, 2012

Juxtaposition - Here Now, Not Yet

Pentecost VII
July 15, 2012
Fr. Philip Eberhart



Juxtaposition:  Here Now – Not Yet



As I read through – wrestled through the scriptures we just heard read this week, I was so struck by the juxtaposition of two realities:

 The promise of Adoption and Peace, the inheritance of the Saints promised to us who believe and the violent end of St. John the Baptist, beheaded by Herod.  Why would these particular scriptures be chosen to be read together?


From the Psalm:

8
I will listen to what the LORD God is saying, *
for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
and to those who turn their hearts to him.

9
Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, *
that his glory may dwell in our land.

10
Mercy and truth have met together; *
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11
Truth shall spring up from the earth, *
and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12
The LORD will indeed grant prosperity, *
and our land will yield its increase.

13
Righteousness shall go before him, *
and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.



And from Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Church:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places …

He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace…

In him we have redemption through his blood…

he has made known to us the mystery of his will…

In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance…

In him you also … were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit;

this is the pledge of our inheritance.



 Then we have Amos and John, the Baptist as bookends!


Amos, a herder and tender of Sycamore trees, sent to Israel and thrown out for the message he was given there.

 John, put in prison, and violently killed at the whim of a bitter wife’s command.


What are we to make of the juxtaposition?

 What are we seeing here?   Juxtaposition is placing two opposite things side-by-side for the purpose of contrast.

 Is that what we have here, two opposite things?

 Do we have the promises of God that we get to claim for ourselves and the reality of Amos and John, prophets who were despised, rejected and killed?

 Or do we have two sides of the same reality?

 On one side the promises of God, based on the gift and grace of Jesus Christ
   …we are blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms …

 And yet …
   … the priest is instrumental in turning the king against Amos…
   … the daughter is instrumental in exacting her mother’s wishes from Herod,                             
          the death of John.



Juxtaposition!

In the midst of life, death.
In the midst of obedience, opposition.
In the midst of the Kingdom of God, the ways of men. 

Friends, we live in the in-between place.  The place of faith.
Until Jesus comes back to set it all right fully, we live in the place of faith.

We live like Abraham, journeying on the way to a better – a promised land.

We live like Moses and the people of Israel, in bitter struggle with our own sin

            Our brokenness and dis-ease are always right there with us.

We live like David, anointed by God, but told to wait – servant to Saul, hated and outcast.

We live like the Prophets, called by God, but living with unclean people and unclean lips.

We live like John, who saw the One who was to come, yet from prison, asked him again,             
           “Are you the one, or shall we look for another?”

We live like Jesus himself, at once Son of God, yet brought to Golgotha… to the place of                         the Cross.



 Juxtaposition!

 Not the comparison of opposites, but the two sides of our life in the Kingdom of God
Here now and Not Yet – the struggle to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”

 To “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, didn’t take that as something to be grasped or held on to.”   He let it go in order to embrace us.  Jesus let everything that He was as God go, in order to take on our humanity – the juxtaposition itself.

 Why?

 Because what the Psalmist, what David said is true… what Paul said is true!

 It’s all true.

 And faith requires us to look past what we see, to something that is – as yet – unseen !!

 Will we see it in our lifetime?

 Will we see the fullness of the Kingdom in our midst?  Will we see the Revival we pray for each week, each month?  Will we see the consummation of our faith?

 Yes!!!!

 Before we die?    Maybe.

 God is not the great candy machine in the sky.  He isn’t a good short-order cook!  He doesn’t grant us three wishes, like Aladdin’s genie. 

 God is the creator, the master of the universe, and we of all people, know the extent and the expanse of that statement.  Many here ARE Rocket scientists, for heaven’s sake!

The “God of the Universe” should have fairly concrete meaning for us today!!  It should be even more awesome to us, than it was to the ancients who wrote the lines.  We can test the boundaries of His greatness and understand the limits of our smallness now, with just a couple of clicks on the computer!

 We live our life here and now, in the in-between;  in the “here now & not yet” – the Kingdom of God is among you and yet it is coming.

 The requirement of this time is faith.

The substance of things hoped for;  the evidence of things not seen.
    Heb 12:1

 And just a few verses later:   For without faith it is impossible to please God.  Those who come to him must believe that He exists (1) and that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him diligently (2).

1.  Keep on believing …

God is here .. He is real … and He is not silent!
We are deaf, because we are loud.  God is soft spoken!  Be Still and Know!

 2.  Look for the fruit of His love, today.

Small ways – sunshine, rain, children, family, friends and loved ones.  Time together.
    All gifts from God … the list is long!  And we are all too busy with the gifts to give                  thanks to the Giver.  Stop.  Be aware of His hand extended toward you today.

The point of juxtaposition is perspective.

Even a tiny pebble that is placed close enough to our eye obscures all else.  Let us make sure that our “light and momentary afflictions” are not obscuring from us the view of what God wants to and is accomplishing through them, “an eternal glory that far outweighs then all.”

Let us pray…


Lord Jesus Christ.

You have given us yourself and in that Gift we have received all things.  Open our eyes this day to see through your eyes, what we have been called to and gifted for – the seeking of your Kingdom first and foremost, and help us by your Spirit to rest in the knowledge that all else that is needful will be added unto us.

In Your Name, Lord Jesus and for the sake of Your Kingdom here on earth, we pray.

Amen.

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