Living in the Moment
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” — Matthew 6:34
The Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Dallas, my home parish, was established in a farmhouse on Central Expressway in 1960. At that time, this area of north Dallas was totally undeveloped. In 1964, we bought 3 acres of land on the other side of the highway for $30,000 and built a very nice sanctuary. Less than 20 years later the city of Dallas had expanded and the corridor of Central Expressway became prime real estate. The diocese received an offer to relocate the church to Greenville Avenue. The capital investment company would buy the new property for us, and would pay $3,000,000 to purchase our current building. The Sunday Bishop Davies came to the parish to tell the congregation that he had accepted the offer, he said, “Every person in this room has visions of what the new church will look like. Some want us to rebuild the church on the new site exactly as it is here. Others have visions of a gothic cathedral. And others want an ultramodern, multi-use facility. What we should all be asking is, ‘What does God want?’”
These are anxious times. Over the past year many have asked, “When will things get back to the way they were?” We want our lives to return to “normal”. We want to return to church as it was. That is not going to happen. God is dismantling the Church. There are things about the Church that have needed changing for a long time. There are new things that God wants to put in place. And we all have visions of what we want the Church to be. But God is in the process of rebuilding the Church in the image of Christ. We should be asking, as Bishop Davies exhorted my home church, “What does God want?”
God is rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem; He is reconstructing His Temple. The old walls are being dismantled, and construction on the new walls has begun. We can hope to revisit the past; we can long for some brighter future; or we can live in the moment, fully trusting that God is doing better things for us right now than we can either ask for or imagine. Jesus said in the passage quoted above, “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” These are troubling days, but Christ is sufficient for the day. Time and eternity intersect in this moment. When we live for the past, or have our eyes fixed on the future, we miss the visitation of Christ in the present.
The rebuilding process may be long and it will require of us patience. We must give God the time and space to do His work in us, remaking us in His image. We don’t know what needs to be done. We need to humbly submit to His plan and purpose for our lives and the life of His Church moment by moment. For those who are in Christ, there is “fullness of joy”, just as He promised (John 15:11; 16:24). To know Christ is to be confident in His ability to provide for our every need in every circumstance. St. Paul wrote to the Church at Philippi from prison during a very troubling time of persecution. He could not be with the Philippians face to face (and Zoom wasn’t available at that time). They faced the prospect of losing everything, even their lives. But Paul assured them, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christand be found in him…” (3:8). These are words of hope for today.
So let us look at the virtues to which God is calling us in our present circumstances. And let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem with the materials that He has chosen, according to His plan for His Temple.