Today I have the privilege of introducing Porter Taylor. Porter is an Anglican priest that I met at Fuller Seminary and admire his insights into the faith. Although we are in the season of Christmastide, I hope you can also cling onto the tension found in his Advent piece. Who is Porter? Husband. Daddy. Disciple. Bishop’s Deputy. ManU fanatic. Nerd. He loves to preach, teach, write and read.
Follow him on Twitter @PorterCTaylor.
As disciples of Jesus we live in a world of perpetual tension – a tension made real by our identity as resurrection people. Advent is a time to bring this tension to the forefront of our lives as we are forced to both look back to Jesus’ first Advent as a babe in swaddling clothes and also forward to his second coming when he will indeed put all things to rights. It is on the significance and scope of this second Advent which I would like to focus our short time together.
As people of the resurrection we live in the tension of the “already but not yet.” In the shadow of the cross we know that Jesus has inaugurated his kingdom and yet it has not fully been consummated and realized. However, things in this world are not as they should be. Death, violence, injustice, greed, and much more continue to grab news headlines and occupy our attention. But it will not always be that way, not in God’s kingdom…
Luke 4 and Matthew 11 record phrasings of Isaiah’s comments about the year of the Lord. Jesus proclaims that he is the anointed one and that his works of healing the sick, the blind, the brokenhearted and many more are proof that God is at work. These signs of Jesus’ first advent will be normative of life in his kingdom as his second. There will be no more tears, no more pain or suffering, no more death. We will live and reign with God and he will be our all in all. We will seem him clearly whereas now we only see through a mirror dimly lit.
Being Advent people means that we wait. Being a Resurrection people means that we hope. Being a people who embrace tension means that our hopeful waiting can and must propel us into action, joining God where his Spirit is currently at work in the world and putting into practice the behaviors that are characteristic of God’s kingdom. Suddenly matters of truthtelling, creation care, hospitality, loving-kindness, stewardship and sharing God’s forgiveness are no longer ethereal dreams but are instead the core of who we are and what we do.
As you reflect and prepare your hearts this Advent, do so with the full knowledge that God is who he says he is and that he will accomplish all he has promised. He has promised not to leave us as orphans, he has promised to return again, and he has promised to usher in his kingdom in new creation. To some the term “not yet” may seem negative, but to me it is a term of hope because I know the joy we will experience when the not yet becomes the now. We must look back and forward at the same time – not losing sight of the other, not relaxing the tension – in order to give thanks for what he has done and anticipate what he will do!
How do you hold onto the “already” and “not yet?”