To answer this question I head for books (sad really, I should ask the person sitting next to me). The bible is a good one. I also tend to gravitate toward the writings of E. Stanley Jones – those who know me are already sick of this inclination. ESJ is my favorite writer and today I picked up ‘The Christ of Every Road’ (written in 1930) to explore this question of the times. On page 23 he writes,
“There is nothing new in saying that we live in an age of transition.
Someone has facetiously said that when Adam and Eve were going out of the Garden of Eden Adam turned to Eve and said, ‘My dear, this is an age of transition.’ The oldest known bit of writing in the world is a piece of papyrus in a Constantinople Museum. On it is written: ‘Alas, times are not what they used to be. Children no longer obey their parents and everyone wants to write a book.’”
Sound familiar? While accepting the fact that each generation claims to be living in a time of transition, ESJ goes on to declare about his own time that…
“…no one can get down amid the currents of this age without feeling that the thoughts and feelings and tendencies flowing there are not ripples on the surface but something that is changing the whole fundamental outlook on life. We are in the throws of a passing from traditionalism to life based
upon the authority of facts, of truth, of experience.”
So times are always changing but to let that lull us into passivity is unacceptable. That is to say, it is unacceptable if we believe God is always inviting us to join in on God’s mission of love and justice in the world. ESJ finishes his short reflection with these penetrating questions…
“Can the Church speak that word out of the depths of it’s own radiant sense of God, out of its own experience of victory in life, out of its deep sense of
sureness amid a world of clashing change?”
Now I set aside my questions about history and culture and ask the deeper question, “can I speak out of the depths of my own radiant sense of God…?” and “can I testify to this radiant sense of God in the life of my faith community?” These seem to be the right kinds of questions no matter what kind of age or change (or story) we Jesus followers find ourselves in. I am coming to believe that every time and place is a kingdom-coming time and place...but only if we have 'eyes to see' the world around us and we can inhabit the proper abandonment to joyfully and gently agitate for the Kingdom's cause.