Monday, March 4, 2024

I can see clearly now ... not yet?

I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind (from song by Jimmy Cliff)

I have been dipping into a book by Kathleen D. Billman and Daniel L. Migliore, Rachel's Cry: Prayer of Lament and Rebirth of Hope (Cleveland, Ohio: United Church press, 1999). An interesting comment caught my eye - not so much about the general subject of lament in the life of the church - but much more generally about the life of the church which is so often beset by division prompted by conviction that I or we "can see clearly now" on some matter of the moment.

Billman and Migliore draw attention to John Calvin finding "the heuristic key to the book of Job" [p. 59] in 1 Corinthians 13:12, "For we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face." They also note that Karl Barth drew on this text when preaching at the funeral service of Matthias Barth (one of his sons, who was killed in a mountaineering accident). They further note that,

Barth tells the gathered mourners that all human life is lived on the boundary described by the words of this text: the boundary between the "now" of our partial and distorted knowledge and the "then," when we will know even as we are known. However, because of the grace of God realized in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, this boundary between the "now" and the "then" is one where light already shines in the darkness, where life already rejoices in the face of death, "where we doubt and nevrtheless are confident, where we cry and nevertheless are joyful". [p. 64, citing Barth, Predigten 1935-1967, p. 225.]

Moving out of their discussion of lament and deep, familial grief, is it not the case that much of our argument and debate in the global, national and local church (per some recent posts here on ADU, and many posts in other forum through these days of Pope Francis, of Trumpism/Putinism, et al) could be much less acidic on the witness of Christians to Jesus Christ if we humbly lived with and lived into 1 Corinthians 13:12?

(my version)

Now, in this life, we understand the things of God very limitedly. One day - o happy day - we will understand everything - in the day when we are face to face with God!

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