It’s hard to know what to talk about at this point in our preparations for overseas church work. It isn’t as though things aren’t happening, it’s just that they aren’t the exciting sorts of things that partners are looking forward to hearing about. We aren’t deployed to the field yet. We don’t have beautiful pictures of far-off lands to share. We don’t have stirring stories of the Holy Spirit’s work in a different language or cultural setting. We’re still here in the United States. Moving forward towards those things, for certain, but, well, we envy those who are already out there and can share those exciting things!
In many ways this is the essence of being Easter people, and perhaps particularly those Easter people accustomed to working within the mutual realities of now and not yet. Simul iustuce et peccator. The reality of the resurrected Christ within us, but still living in a world that doesn’t show many signs of it. And because our sinful nature remains with us for now (Romans 7), oftentimes we ourselves don’t evidence much of who we will be revealed to be when Christ returns (1 John 3). We look as often as not like everyone else.
But we aren’t like everyone else. And for our family right now, that means we’re called to support the work of the Church by uprooting and moving to the opposite side of the planet, but we haven’t actually done that yet like so many other faithful men and women and families. We’re like them in the technical sense, but unlike them in how we look right now.
So I’ve finished my pastoral duties, and we’re trying to wrap up our house situation and settle elsewhere until we’re deployed. We’ve got partnership events scheduled at four different churches in our neck of the woods over the next two months, with more to come. But it still feels very much the same. It’s hard to maintain the excitement over what we’re moving towards when day to day looks a lot like it has for years. And therefore it’s hard to convey excitement to all of you when we don’t have anything exciting to show you yet!
In which case, what do we do in the meantime? We cling to the reality that is, even when it doesn’t look or feel like it. Just as in our lives in Christ we go back to his Word and his promises, we receive his gifts to us in Word and Sacrament and recognize it isn’t our emotions that dictate reality but the promises of God in Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected. That’s all that matters! Externals may or may not reflect that reality at any given moment, but that is our reality and our responsibility is to nurture that spark until it one day blazes eternally.
And likewise I and my family need to cling to the reality that we are in fact overseas workers for the Church. This is who we are, and who you are helping us to be. It’s not pretend, it’s real. But the reality hasn’t fully manifested yet. Not in the exciting ways. Necessary ways to be sure. Good ways to be sure! We cling to the reality of Call documents and see in the myriad Zoom meetings and orientation trips that this truly is our reality, even if from day to day things look much as they have for years.
Thank you for your patience and prayers in the meantime!