The New from the Old,
Something new is in the air. Yet it’s November, the time for dying.
John Scally, a lecturer at Trinity College, treats his readers of “A Pilgrim’s Progress for Today,” Spirituality, Nov.-Dec. ’18 to Christopher Fry’s words: “Affairs are now soul-sized, The enterprise is exploration into God.” He describes the Church of Ireland today.
“As the old tree of established structures is dying it is not easy to discern how to graft anew to the future vine. At the moment we are at an in-between time in our history caught between a rich tradition and an as yet unformed new direction.” In a sense the Church in Ireland is wandering between two worlds, one dead, the other yet to be born, struggling to adapt to a fast-changing society, says Scally.
The immense movement that came into the world through Christ which never rests, the Church, must always be breaking off—setting out anew. The Church has a form only so that she may transcend herself. She holds the urgency of the maturing seed as a present reality within herself, says Hans Urs Von Balthasar.
And so we all must reposition ourselves. Our individual selves though newly dignified via an individualistic culture, are often isolated and disengaged. We are tired of failed dreams and false promises.
Maybe we need re-creation. He who made us longs to re-create us. Out of our nothingness and corruption Jesus would shape disciples, capable of understanding the motivations of his heart and obeying his will: capable of bringing delight to God!
What if Jesus calls us to himself just as he called his apostles to go up the mountain toward him. By going to him we are willingly moving into a great unknown, we are taking a great risk. He intends to make us anew, according to his own heart, a heart capable of feeling, thinking, and loving like God himself. But not as a carbon copy, more as a unique replica emanating from our most true self.
What if Jesus calls us in order that we might bewithhim in holy intimacy? Being-with Jesus here would be the absolutely highest form of having existence. By participating in Jesus’ divine I AM this intense way, our own created I AM would acquire substance, permanence and fullness.
Then Jesus says, “Follow me into the fulness of life”.
What could that mean?
Into a new set of values,
Eternal values that can be hinted at when we imagine our moment of death. When we are beheld by the splendour and power of Christ’s gaze.
In the ultimate insecurity of the abyss when all that is temporal falls away and what remains is only eternal love.
In the meantime we are given time to live in a certain tension between the already and the not yet.
Paul gives us something of a description of what that meantime would look like. “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.” 2 Cor.4.7-10. The slight momentary affliction would be the place between the already and the not yet. A not unfamiliar place.
And then Paul teases us with the possibility of glory. “So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4.16-18
I can imagine that most of who I think is me will go with the tent (2 Cor. 5.4) that is stripped away and I can only be surprised by the unique and nearly unrecognizable I Am that remains.
I recommend his article and am intrigued by his closing line asking where we go from here and promising to respond next issue. For now, please allow me to imagine.