Sunday, August 28, 2011

Poetry Sunday: A Future Not Our Own

It's Poetry Sunday!  I read this poem when I was a junior in college, and it really connected with me. Last week I was going through some old boxes of stuff in preparation for our move, and I found a copy of it. It speaks to me now just as much as it did then, and I hope it will speak to you as well. It's written by a former archbishop from El Salvador, Oscar Arnulfo Romero (1917-1980):

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own
It helps now and then to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a small fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. 
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything. 
This is what we are about:
We plant the seeds that will one day grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities. 
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it well.
It may be incomplete but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. 
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.  
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. 
We are prophets of a future not our own.
I love it… we cannot do everything, but that is liberating rather than disheartening. We're workers. We're ministers. We're not the master builder. We're pieces of this great, huge, complicated, beautiful, messy story. So let us plant seeds, let us water seeds already sewn, let us lay foundations, let us do something and do it well. Let us dive in head first with full hearts and clear eyes. And even in the midst of serving and loving and reconciling, even as we pour ourselves into the roles set before us, even as we focus keenly on making a difference in the here and now, let us be ever mindful that beyond the clear and vivid present is the blurrier "long view" on the horizon--a future that is ultimately not our own.

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow." -1 Corinthians 3:6

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