The Climax of Time, July 11. 2012

Ephesians 1:8b-10(nrsv)
With all wisdom and insight God has made known
to us the mystery of God’s will, 

according to God’s good pleasure that God set forth in Christ, 
as a plan for the fullness of time,
 to gather up all things in Christ,
 things in heaven and things on earth.
This passage speaks of a fullness of time, of God’s time, of a time when all things created, all things on earth and in the heavens will be gathered up by God. It provokes for me a beautiful image of a great returning to God of all of God’s creation. I imagine the world in all its broken beauty, it’s abundance mixed in with the places of want and scarcity being folded in together and gathered up in God’s loving embrace.

What does it mean to be gathered up in Christ? To be gathered into that which is both holy and human? That which dies a violent death and yet is beautifully resurrected? That which walks and sings and teaches and heals and loves itself into the tomb, into life and then into the heavens?

In the Common English Bible the words “the fullness of time” are translated instead as “the climax of time”. What a dramatic choice, don’t you think? What will the climax of time look like I wonder? It seems that if God is gathering all things up in Christ it’s certainly a slow climb to the climax. The disciples and early Christ followers expected the climax of time to happen any minute, as the days turned to years and the years to decades and then to generations and finally to centuries we’ve come to think about this fullness or climax differently. We’re learning (and relearning) to take the long view.

As we wait and ponder and wonder what it means to be gathered up in Christ we also find that it’s already happening. God’s time moves less like the hands on a clock and more like the movements of a mysterious dance or a haunting piece of music. It moves forward with the gentle breathing of a baby on your chest, with the breeze of a hot summer day spent on the mountain, with the arc of the waves at the beach or in the arms of the man who reaches again and again for more bread, for one more sandwich. God is gathering us up in Christ in the movements of our faith communities as they gather, sing and pray their way through the liturgy. God is gathering us up in Christ as we move again and again towards one another in love despite our disagreements and misunderstandings.

Can you think of a time the events of your life came to a fullness, a climax even? Was it a predictable one you expected or did it take you by surprise? Can you think of a time when God’s time came into view, if even for a few fleeting moments?

May you have the patience and the curiosity to peer into the world
And find evidence of God’s time unfolding and folding in again,
May you find yourself being gathered up in Christ,
Held in the loving embrace of God and
In the trusting arms of your family and communities,
May you seek and find God’s movements in all times and places.