Unfolding Promise

Sunday, July 4th, we observe both the weekly celebration of Jesus’ resurrection and the 245th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Both the resurrection and Independence Day are definitive “in-time” events; both are also still unfolding. Independence was not secured until the surrender at Yorktown in 1781. The Constitution, which sought “to form a more perfect Union,” took another six years and was immediately amended with the Bill of Rights and has subsequently been amended 17 times, one of which was later repealed.

Our beloved country is a work in progress. The principles of equality, liberty, and justice for all still ask us to reach farther “to create a more perfect union.” Jon Meacham, writer, and several times serving vestryman, believes we can take up the challenge:

“If the men and women of the past, with all their flaws and limitations and ambitions and appetites, could press on through ignorance and superstition, racism and sexism, selfishness and greed, to create a freer, stronger nation, then perhaps we, too, can right wrongs and take another step toward that most enchanting and elusive destinations: a more perfect Union.” (The Soul of the Nation)

God’s perfect world, God’s beloved community, continues to come into being as well. Jesus exhorted his followers to “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (MT 5:48) Recently, I was reminded by Brother Curtis Almquist of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist this is not a command, but a promise. The Greek word is in future, not imperative tense. The promise is that, in the end, in the fullness of time, we will be made perfect, complete, whole.

In the meantime – and sometimes it’s a very mean time – we are not left to our own devices. God’s power is at work in and through each of us. When we fail, God does not abandon us. We have a Savior to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

When you find yourself powerless, rather than despair or condemn, claim this promise of power, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). Let experiences of powerlessness turn us toward the source of all power for “God’s power made perfect in our weakness” (2 Cor 12:19). This is a sure foundation that will hold through the unfolding changes and challenges we face, individually and collectively, as a nation and as people of faith.