I usually get remarks about my sermon, but I was joyfully surprised when one of our very bright high school seniors came up to my after a sermon a few weeks ago and said, “Pastor, your message on the Kingdom is exactly what I am dealing with in my studies right now: ‘Realized Eschatology!’” I paused. I swallowed. I waited for what was next.
“You know, Pastor, realized eschatology: the idea of the ‘Already’ and the ‘Not Yet!’”
Actually I didn’t learn about the aspect of the Kingdom of God in the New Testament which is referred to as the “Already and the Not Yet” until about my third year of seminary, but this kid had it down already!
This is what we are dealing with in the parables of Mark 4. When we read Jesus’ words that the “Kingdom is among you” on a Sunday and then get the word about a malignant tumor, or say goodbye to your husband of fifty years who is about to leave this world, you come to understand what the “not yet” part is all about.
So what do we do with a King-dom that is already here, but not yet come in full? How do we live in the parentheses of life? Let us receive the Word of God in Mark 4:21-25.
Each summer, all over America, families will be packing up for long road trips to go to national parks and beaches and mountains and big cities and new adventures. And in the backseats of millions of cars, about 3 hours into the 36 hour drive you will hear it for the first time, echoed all over the nation: “Are we there yet?”
You know what? A lot of other people also say it.
Missionaries say it. In the 1800s Robert and Mary Moffat labored as missionaries in Kuruman (South Africa) among the Bechuanas with-out success. Robert compared it to a “husbandman laboring to transform the surface of granite rock into arable land . . . ” His wife Mary lamented, “Could we but see the smallest fruit, we could rejoice midst the privations and toil which we bear; but as it is, our hands do often hang down.”1 She was saying, “Are we there yet, Lord?”
Ministers say it. Discouragement is the common malady for many ministers. We preach, we teach, we shepherd with Word, Sacrament and Prayer and yet often see little fruit. We seem to clamor for immediate results and if we don’t see them we grow discouraged. This myopic vision cannot see past one week to what God may be doing long term. “Are we there yet, Lord?”