Monday, October 21, 2013

Between Seasons

This is the time of year when we (my family and I) aren't sure whether to turn off the summertime AC for good, because some days become warm.  Then at nighttime or the early morning, we debate whether to turn on the heat. Clothing styles reflect the temperature range. Some folks wear hoodies and coats while also wearing flip-flops, or warm tops with shorts.

“Between the times” has theological meaning. We live between the first and second comings of Christ. To think of ourselves “between the times” is to embrace the certainty of God’s grace and promises while knowing that we are still struggling---with problems, with imperfect undertanding, with personal flaws and a suffering world. The upcoming Advent season specially reminds of us Christ's two arrivals, past and future.

The phrase is otherwise useful. Zwischen den Zeiten was the journal in which Karl Barth and his colleagues expounded “dialectical theology” in the 1920s and early 1930s. They rethought Christian discourse from what they considered the dead-ends of earlier liberalism toward a new articulation of the divine promises.

Sometimes in our lives, we’re between times, and this can be confusing. God seems to have led us to a certain situation, but the resources we need from God are not (or seem not to be) forthcoming. We’re not sure whether to “keep on” or to change course, and we seek God’s help with those decisions. In the meantime, we’re not altogether comfortable, and perhaps are even miserable.

But other times, things are going well, and all we need is to periodically make “tweaks,” the way we turn up the temperature in the morning for a little while we that we shivver in the bathroom, getting ready for the new day: low in the 40s, high in the 70s.

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