You see, our church choir has begun its preparation for the annual Christmas musical. Actually, we have been rehearsing Christmas music for over a month. We started some time in early September.
So tonight, we were singing about "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year." We sang about angels and shepherds and stars and wise men and....well, you get the idea. Does it feel a little weird? Maybe, but I'm used to it. Because here's the thing: If we're going to be prepared - if we expect to know the music - we have to be working on it now. Christmas is in the future, but if we want to do it right, we have to bring the future into the present.
N.T. Wright, among others, has described the death and resurrection of Jesus as God's future bursting into the present. I think it's a pretty good description. Scripture says that Jesus being raised from the dead was "the first fruits of those who are asleep." (1 Corinthians 15:20) We live in an age where God has already won the victory over death and hell, but the final manifestation of that is still to come. The future, when all God's people rise to reign with him, has burst into our present.
So what do we do now? We practice! We are going to spend eternity bringing glory to God, but why wait until then? If we are going to do it right, we need to be living it now.
So...Christmas has burst into October, and we are singing carols and practicing to fully celebrate it when December rolls around. Similarly, God's glorious future has burst into our present, and we can't ignore it. This is what living the Christian life is about. Not obeying a bunch of rules to try and earn God's favor. But beginning the future right now. Reflecting the image of the Creator in his creation. Practicing for an eternity of obeying him and bringing him glory.
You know, it's kind of like Dippin Dots - you know, "the ice cream of the future." It may be the ice cream of the future, but we've been eating it for around 20 years.
The future is here. Faith isn't about waiting for heaven. It's about how we live now, in anticipation of how we'll live then.
Are you ready?