Just as a note, Reader, there won’t be a post next Friday; I’m off to a church conference and won’t be around a computer. Hopefully my life will calm down somewhat after next week. We’ll see—I say that and am almost always proven incorrect.
This past Sunday, in case you aren’t a liturgical nerd like me and don’t follow the Church calendar like the schedule for the World Cup (sorry, I love soccer/futbol but I couldn’t resist a dig in there), was Pentecost. A pair of my friends (actually, Talkative and his now-wife) got married and I took the opportunity to go on a road trip and visit several seminaries.
Yup, Reader. IT’S THAT REAL NOW.
Which is scary as hell, on the one hand, because that’s change and that’s a certain level of acceptance and I love change roughly about as much as I love hanging out on beaches (if you are unsure about that comparison, Reader, know that I hate hanging out on beaches a whole whole lot). But the part I didn’t expect is that it was also really cool. I mean, this is what I want to do, right? (Sort of.) And this is what I truly think God wants me to do—the seminary bit, at least. The “after that” is still a matter of sparring. So to be able to meet these folks who know what I’m talking about when I discuss Call and path and such and to have people laugh when I make theological/denominational jokes because they understand them is a really neat change. It’s the aspect of being around My People, in a way, which was kind of sad because that used to be medievalists but was also great because I hadn’t realized how much I was looking for that niche.
It was also a good experience because I got to see how much I have changed, and how much I knew what to say and wasn’t totally freaking out when I didn’t know what to say. I navigated, literally and figuratively, a lot of things that would have totally stopped me dead a year ago, but experience and sheer refusal to give up and a shaky-but-present faith that I wasn’t doing this trip alone pushed me to go all of these places and talk to all of these people and generally surprise the crickets out of myself. Surely all of that wasn’t me.
And that’s true. Not all of that was me. A good portion of that was God; had I really been doing this alone, I would not have made it out of the house. So there’s that.
The thing of it is, though, that now I have come back to work, and there’s nothing quite as jarring to a routine as getting out of it and then returning. I make no secret of not being overly fond of my job, I know; it’s a great job, it really is, for somebody else. But I’m here and learning a ton and making it work.
And then I see what could be. And it makes what is exponentially harder, because even while I’m terrified by the concept of change I know that it’s time. I’m ready, sort of, to move on, to go for the next adventure. But I can’t. Not yet.
I’ve heard a lot of language lately about the “already-not-yet” concept of the Resurrection and Pentecost. Both together bring the Kingdom of God crashing through the living room of this world, a crackling fire of uncontrolled wind whooshing past the barriers we have of what that kingdom should look like. The Spirit dances here already; the kingdom has come, is come, sits squarely in our offices and churches and gyms and coffee shops and timidly curious hearts.
And yet it doesn’t; the kingdom is still waiting, is still King-less to a certain degree, is still pushing us to keep building and inviting and growing. We wait for its fulfillment in a world that certainly can’t be the kingdom, what with its violence and fear and brokenness.
God’s Kingdom is here already.
God’s Kingdom is not yet here.
And somehow, both of these are true. What? Why is this blasted faith system built on paradoxes?!? (That I can’t answer. Maybe after seminary…) But what I’ve been mulling since my return is that I don’t get to be an exception to this. Yes, eventually I will make that change and will move on to the Next Big Adventure of my life because I don’t think God wants me in this job forever. But I do think He wants me here for the moment, and in that I get to sit in that same already-not-yet place of ministry. I am already in ministry; I fall into it nearly every day with some conversation or some moment of connection or some echo of Presence. I had a friend at the wedding who, when he heard I’d been looking at seminaries, said, “About time.” And that’s a common response I get from people because they see that part of me that is already doing ministry in my own clumsy, Spirit-led way. I am already dancing with the Spirit, tripping on the flames while She smiles patiently.
And I am not yet doing ministry. Full-time professional ministry is a whole different ballgame, I know. That’s in the future, after the training and the evaluations and the many, many nights of telling God He’s off His damned rocker for asking me to do this. That is something yet to be fulfilled, and part of the trust of “already” is allowing that “not yet” will happen. I am where I am right now and that has to be enough.
Even if I really, really want to be somewhere else.
Where are your kingdoms, Reader? Where are the places that you are already doing something that is not yet done?
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us. For the creation waits with eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. (Romans 8:16-19, WEB)