Today you and I are in the “now…but not yet” time. That’s theological shorthand for the time from the first coming of Jesus to his second coming.
Between the Ascension of Jesus and Pentecost, the apostles were in their own “now…but not yet” time. They received a promise from Jesus that they would get some help. And it came at Pentecost in the form of the Holy Spirit. From that time forward apostles of Jesus have been sharing the good news of salvation through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah. When they started they had the gift of the Spirit and themselves for mutual care and support. They did not have a building.
As we turn the corner to the month of June, we are still in our “not yet” time. It is getting somewhat closer, but clearly it is “not yet” time to reopen.
One of the mistaken comments of this time has been something like, “we have to reopen closed churches.” Excuse me, but only the building is closed, and for good reason. It’s unsafe to gather in large groups. And we value and apply the tenants contained in the fifth commandment.
The church, the CHURCH, has never been more open than right now. People are sharing their faith. God’s word is shared in the sacred manner as it always has. Study of scripture goes on. People are talking to and caring for each other frequently.
One of the constants over the centuries is that the church is always changing. Today we are taking on some new ways of being the church, less reliant on a physical structure, and more reliant on the structure provided by Christ. Grace, peace and mercy. And our baptismal call to serve and love the neighbor.
Will it be good to be back together? Darn right it will. It will occur, sometime. Not yet. God has provided the science, the precautions and the steps to take to make sure that safe gatherings will happen. That is the faithful path to follow.
Clifton D. Eshbach,