From all that we know about the Reformation, whose beginning 500 years ago is just now being celebrated, the late mediaeval mind was much concerned with the hereafter; the notion of eternity and one’s destiny in that eternity filled the horizon of ordinary citizens of that time. Move forward to today, and that focus seems to have entirely gone. We are concerned with now, and much of our thinking has junked any thoughts of the meaning of our life set in eternity. Both views, then and now have their ironies; for the man or woman of 1519 the issue of making ends meet now in a very uncertain world, and where the next meal might come from, was also very real. Today, science has opened up a vast universe, with vistas of time stretching over billions of years, and yet today fills our thoughts.
This tension of ‘now’ and ‘eternity’ we somehow have to juggle; and for many, the needs of today are of primary concern. But I wonder if we have, individually and corporately, boxed ourselves into a corner with our very short-term, ‘today’ perspective? Ecologists call us to remember that we are stewards of the earth, called to pass it on in good shape to our grandchildren and their heirs. The faith calls us to live in the light of eternity, doing reckless good to neighbour and enemy alike, as we live for God, and hope to come to him after death.
‘She has gone to God’- a phrase I use at funerals. It is said not as something slick, but a reminder that we live in an world set in eternity, both of time, and of quality- the realities of good, right, kindness, justice, peace, which Jesus came to open to us now. So that the time we have here, now, might be rich in those realities, and make now, today, a foretaste of the eternal qualities of heaven. May it be so for you today and this week.