Where We Are. Or Aren’t.

Posted: April 8, 2008 in Discussions

So Gerald Locklin has to write this “where we are” poem and bug me with it. Here’s how it goes:

i envy those
who live in two places:
new york, say, and london;
wales and spain;
l.a. and paris;
hawaii and switzerland.

there is always the anticipation
of the change, the chance that what is wrong
is the result of where you are. i have
always loved both the freshness of
arriving and the relief of leaving. with
two homes every move would be a homecoming.
i am not even considering the weather, hot
or cold, dry or wet: i am talking about hope.

Now don’t get hung up on the two homes bit. I mean everybody needs one home before any of us deserve two, but as the penetrating last line intimates, this is not the point. Locklin’s topic is hope.

Or is it?

I really don’t know.

I’m infected with the matter under discussion. It permeates Christianity, what with the “this world is not my home” sort of thinking. It sells in American capitalism, too: we are always looking for something else. There are some great words for this, hope notwithstanding. Words like quest and journey and anticipation and Chicago Cubs.

But there’s the negative end of it, too. Oddly enough, in Christianity the same Bible author dude who talks about “pressing on to take hold” writes about learning the secret of being content in all situations. Yes, words like contentment and fulfillment and presence, and for lovers of all things French, c’est la vie, seem to fly in the face of Locklin’s anticipation.

So which is it? Or, better, where is the balance between the two?

I suspect someone might be tempted to offer the Serenity Prayer in response – God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I’ll give you that one if you’ll allow my addendum to the Serenity Prayer – And, Lord, please give one of those people you gave the wisdom to know the difference enough writing ability to expound on the Serenity Prayer just a tad.

I’m infected with Locklin’s hope. I guess I’m just wondering today if I should exult, or request some antibiotics.

  1. jamey67 says:

    For me its both. The positive is that I can dust off my mistakes and move on. The negative is that I don’t face the mistakes and are doom to repeat them. I actually don’t do change well. I rather sit back and dream of changes in the comfort of the dungeon that I created for myself.

    As far as the Christian side of the coin, we should treat this world as aliens traveling through. But we all treat this world as the destination, not the trip (and what a strange trip it has been 🙂 ). I don’t know if its a lack of faith on our part or not grasping the magnitude of what eternity really is.

  2. K. Rex Butts says:

    I will live in this world, with all of its broken promises and fallen empires, as an alien knowing that I belong to a different kingdom. Yet I will live in this world, with all of it joyfulness and beauty, knowing that such attributes are a foreshadow of the redemption ‘already’ begun in Christ but ‘not yet’ experienced in full until that day when Christ comes again and all redemptive work is made complete.

    Everyday of our lives, we live. I guess the question is for what kingdom and which King do we live for?

    That was an interesting poem. Thanks for sharing!

    Ithaca Church of Christ
    Ithaca, NY

  3. alsturgeon says:

    Thanks for your comments, guys! I think it was C.S. Lewis who said something about the people who made the greatest differences in this world were those who were thinking about the next one. Interesting though in light of your comments I think…

    I still struggle with contentment. I’m all for working for a better world, better day, better whatever. It just seems that I too often miss the present by dreaming and working for the future.

  4. lesjr says:

    Sometimes I wonder “if this world is not my home” is just a way to avoid responsibility? Really. Paul–the Bible dude–says that we are already lifted up with God–so why not be busy helping lift the world around us instead trying to escape it? I don’t know all the answers nor how to make the above jive with my desire to be at home with the Lord and leave some of this confusion behind!

    Don’t go thinking you are making a democrat out of me!!!


  5. alsturgeon says:

    LOL! I’ll keep “hoping” Les!

    I think you’re right. It is a heck of a lot easier to dream of another world than to get to work in this one.

    Thanks for your comment!

  6. K. Rex Butts says:

    N.T. Wright in his book “Surprised By Joy” ends with a section discussing the ethical responsibilities we have as Christians in this world. And he also mentions the very song “This World Is Not My Home” as one of several examples of hymns that are driven by Platonic Philosophy rather than the witness of scripture.

    The fact is that this world is our home and it, just like us, is being restored and redeemed by the Living God. The picture in Revelation 21 is not one of us going to heaven but one in which heaven and earth are no longer seperated. Just as in the Garden of Eden, our God’s dwelling space is with his people. It is a new heaven and new earth. Our problem is that we read the word “New” as meaning completely different, when I believe a better reading of the word “New” is the transformation and remaking of the old — just as God with the old covenant and our bodies.

    So the joy of kingdom business means that if this redemptive transformation has already began but is not-yet complete, then we are invited by God to join in his ongoing work of redemption. This work is not merely in the spiritual side as if the physical is totally corrupt and rejected by God (platonism). This work is about life which God has created and is redeeming and scripture never separates life into the dualistic catagories like the platonistic philosophy that we Christians have allowed to penetrate our thought.

    Sorry for the long comment,


  7. alsturgeon says:

    No apology necessary. Good stuff.

    I heard Mike Cope say a few years back (and I plan to emphasize it in an upcoming sermon) that the question isn’t “if you only had one day to live what would you do?” but “if you knew you would live forever, what would you become?”

    I love that thought.

    Still, however, I struggle within it – missing life in the “present.”

  8. K. Rex Butts says:

    I am going to use that this week. Before I cam to MS, I preached a sermon series titled “Easter’s Promise: Hope for the Suffering.” Well, I am now going to preach two sermons from Romans 12 on redemptive living in the church and in the world.


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