I had a meeting with the Strategic Planning Team last night. It’s a great group of people, and it’s fun to imagine a future for our church. At the same time there is a natural frustration as we try to imagine the future because no one knows when we will have this pandemic managed. And it is impossible to know what the long term affect will be on the future of the church. I think we all know things will be different, but we can only make guesses about what those differences will be.
This is particularly hard for people who are used to being able to muscle the future into our making. Presbyterians tend to be smart, capable people. Lot of Presbyterians are good at their jobs, successful at business, ambitious and hard working. All this means, we’re used to being able to achieve the goals we fix for ourselves. So when forces beyond our control, like war, or natural disaster or pestilence strike we are set back on our heels. Most of us have not had to contend with anything as confounding as the current pandemic. No matter what we throw at it, we personally are unable to control or destroy it. We can’t even ignore it! It is too big for us and we are left with waiting and wondering when it will be over and what the world will look like when it is over. We cannot see clearly to the future.
Detrick Bonhoeffer says something like that in his comments on Isa 9: 6-7.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
Bonhoeffer points out that Isaiah penned these words 700 years before their fulfillment. He says that Isaiah was “so deeply immersed in God’s thought and counsel that he speaks of the future as it he saw it already, and he speaks of the salvific hour as if he already stood in adoration before the manger of Jesus.” He goes on to say that God was completely certain of his salvation plans for humankind and whispered them into Isaiah’s ear in such a way that he penned this beautiful and hopeful language.
When we are truthful with ourselves, we know that we never really know the future. We fool ourselves into thinking we know… but we don’t. But God does know the future and has beautiful, saving plans for his creation. In these uncertain times, it is good to know we can trust the future to God. We can hope in God.
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