By Greg Jarrell, reposted from his substack newsletter (May 1, 2023)
I was grateful to get an invite from the North Carolina region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to speak at their annual gathering this past weekend. Unfortunately, their schedule got waaaaaaay behind, and I was scheduled to lead one of my walks in uptown Charlotte. So I have an unheard sermon, written for a very specific moment. These things take too much time and care. Somebody needs to see it.
Here’s the quick set-up: I was to be the third of three preachers offering a short homily. The first was to speak on the church of the past and the second on the present church. I was to offer some thoughts on the church of the future. The text tying it all together was Revelation 1:1-8. Verse 8 says “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
I had seven minutes to deliver it. Part of the experience was to be me speaking way too fast. So, beloved, read as quickly as possible.
Here it is:
If I understand what has happened this afternoon, then we’ve heard Rev. Jones tell us about the past in order to describe the present we inhabit. We heard Rev. Dr. McHenry name the present we live in, which shows us what tomorrow looks like. And so, it must be my job in talking about the future to look backwards and describe that which is coming back.
What I am saying is that even here in these sermonic moments we have shared, we live in the swirl of time, the uncertain whims of temporality, the liberating unity of overlapping chronologies. The whole dizzying world of Revelation 1 is an exercise in shaking us from boring old, marching-on time and setting us into a disjuncture. In verse 8 we acknowledge the one who was and is and is to come. In verse 7, John can’t decide whether to use present of future tense. In verse 6, the present is extended into eternity; in verse 5, we get the logic-defying phrase “the firstborn of the dead;” verse four again speaks of the one who was and is and is to come; and in verse three we learn that the time is near (a phrase we will return to in a moment).Continue reading “The Church of the Future”