"I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6
This was a verse given to me at either my baptism or confirmation, I cannot quite remember, I will have to dig into the boxes in the garage to find the forms that will tell me. It is not that important when it was given, but I have found myself thinking about the verse over and over again recently.
The translation I used above uses the word 'among' to describe the location of God's work - there are other translations that render this 'in' - the one suggests that the work of God is undertaken in community, the other that it takes place primarily within the life of an individual. You can ponder that for a moment as I say that I am not actually so concerned with where the work is taking place, as I am with the fact that the verse suggests it is unfinished.
There is a suggestion that work has begun, and is well underway, but it isn't finished yet. It speaks to the impatience of the person or group being worked on, and our desire to be 'finished'. The text may even make us long for that moment of completion even more. But for me, right now, as I read it today, it is encouraging patience.
There is a day on which I will be finished, and on that day, the day of Jesus Christ, I will fully understand what all the fuss and struggle was about, but that is not this day. I am not sure when the day of Jesus Christ is exactly - but I am pretty sure it isn't today. I am moving towards it, I am being guided by a divine hand, and sometimes I feel it is almost here, but then I am reminded that I am not finished, and there is still a way to go.
I don't think I am ever quite going to be finished here on earth. I think there may be a great danger in assuming that I might be. The Rev. Anders Bergquist, who led my diaconal ordination retreat warned us fresh faced ordinands that 'people are never finished', and that this would be supremely frustrating in pastoral ministry. So much so that we may even try to avoid people and focus on projects in parish life that can give us a sense of completion. He encouraged us to stay with the unfinished. To work with the intermediate, to be present in the mess and to avoid trying to create artificial finality.
I am not finished... I am pretty sure that one day I will be, but until then, I am going to work on being happy in the experiment of my daily living.
It has been a long week, and I am pausing on my day off to try and absorb what has been happening, and particularly the desire to close our borders to those in need in the face of fear over terrorist attacks.
In re-watching some of the coverage this week I found myself wondering about the French in Paris last Friday night and how so many opened their doors to strangers who were in need of shelter. I wonder if they asked the people at the door to pass some test in order to be let in whilst gunmen were shooting in the streets?
This week France has engaged in air strikes against Daesh targets - and I don't know quite what I think about that, but I do know that their commitment to the 30,000 refugees who they already agreed to take has been encouraging.
So if we want to know what we should do for those who are fleeing violence and asking us for shelter - I am pretty content to follow the Parisian example:
From the UK, Matthew loved US culture from the first time he picked up a Fantastic Four Comic when he was 12.