Sunday, October 23, 2005

The world is too much with us

The world is too much with us; late and soon
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
-excerpt from Wm. Wordsworth 1802-1804

Come August, we face the daunting possibility of packing up our lives in Manly for a new life in Canada. Talking and dreaming about this move – the opportunities for study, things to see, friends to make – wakes a great deal of excitement for what will come. This view toward a new (and hopefully good) future also makes the dullness of year 8 and insolence of year 9 tolerable as, thankfully, it too will pass and the end is in sight. But thoughts of leaving dear friends in Sydney and the sunny, colourful world of Manly are sad. As these warring emotions compete for our attention, this desire to be so firmly rooted in Manly doesn’t dull the eagerness of moving, just as expectancy of life in Vancouver doesn’t dampen our desire to be in Manly. Consequently, we are trapped in paradoxical emotions that breed a deep desire to live life in a fully present and anticipatory way.

An old saying speaks of some Christians, “they are so heavenly minded, they are no earthly good”. Many, especially in earlier generations of believers, were keenly focused on Heaven, often to the detriment of their work in the world around them. In my experience, we seldom speak of Heaven, apart from evangelical situations where we are warning people off Hell and offering them Heaven. We have cast aside streets of gold and pearly gates for less concrete, albeit theologically sounder, ideas of Heaven and consequently, we speak very little of where we are headed, making me wonder if we are not so earthly minded that we are simply no good. Perhaps Wordsworth had it right. We see only what is before us – the job, the purchases – and we believe it will go on forever, which makes us blind to the real, and very passing, world that is around us.

This week, while reading through 1+2 Thessalonians and 1+2 Timothy, we noticed that Paul repeatedly reminds the early believers of their life to come in Heaven. They are to be faithful and focused on the end result of Life with Christ, the reality of which we only glimpse here on earth. This is because, as the Church, we ought to be keenly longing for that which awaits us. But this excitement is the sort that should open our eyes to the reality of now, to our short lives here. We should, as we look toward our upcoming promotion, live with the intensity of a people who know their days are numbered. Instead, we speak little of heaven and seldom encourage each other with visions of our future. The result? The world is too much with us. We spend our days wastefully, unconcerned with our very real scarcity of time. We fail to enjoy our families, friends, nature, food, drink, sex, with holy appreciation, always figuring there will be time tomorrow. We live with little anticipation or joy toward the future because we have forgotten where we are going. Perhaps if we, like those before us, encouraged each other with “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thes. 16-17) we would begin to feel the excitement of the future and taste the joy of today.

1 comment:

Craig Tubman said...

amen brother and sister.
amen to that.

If we think Heaven is really going to happen - thats gotta change alot, that's gotta change everything.

"we have given up everything to follow you"
- the disciples, circa 32AD