mysterium tremendum et fascinas
Now we see in a mirror dimly, then we will see face-to-face. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Growing up in central Illinois in the Methodist Church, we were taught to trust the scriptures. For years I was raised with the understanding that if there was a question, the answer would be in the Bible. Whatever my question was, the answer would be there. With that as my foundation from Sunday School's teachings, I entered into the world. When I went away to college, I came to see the first paradox of many: The Scriptures hold words about our faith. Faith. Faith is believing yet not knowing. Faith is living in the in-between. Faith is seeing in the dark. Faith is not giving up looking into the mirror, even when at first it feels too dark to see.
These days might be the most not-knowing, not-having-the-answer days of my life. You talk about seeing in a mirror dimly. It’s hard for me to sit in times of not-knowing. It’s hard to lean in, when I don’t know how far that leaning will go. Will I just tip over and fall to the ground?
I've heard it said time and again that "our lives are a mystery," but in just a matter of months for the world, weeks for many of us, we are truly living into a mystery now. "Life as we know it to be, know it to count on" is in the rearview mirror. What we face now is a curvy road, that appears to start with a pretty good-sized hill. There's no going back, our lives have taught us that. We live our lives moving forward. But to what? To where? We have no way of knowing. NO ONE on the planet knows the answer to our questions. "Now we see in a mirror dimly." I wonder what was happening when these words were first written. We are told this letter to the people of Corinth was in the time of the early church. No one alive had known Christ. They had only heard stories, only known through passed down lessons how to make their way on their faith path. Left foot, right foot.
At Candler they taught us to pay attention to the context. It's hard to understand one thing without remembering that it comes connected to something else. And what is the context of this verse? What is connected before and after this verse? Before this verse, we are told, "If I speak in the tongues of mortals and angels but have not love..." then "Love is patient and love is kind, love doesn't insist upon its own way." Following after the mirror words is this verse: "Now faith, hope and love remain, these three and the greatest of these is...
...love." Love is holding us, these days. Love is surely holding me. I know it with my breathing in and breathing out. Love is holding us in the moments when we are afraid and unsure and unknowing. Love is holding us – until we can take the next steps, do the next thing. Love is in us – each one. Always has been. And now, more than ever before, we know, you and I – always has been, always will be.
Now we see in a mirror dimly is where we are, love is holding us all along the way as we are journeying on to what is next for me and you and all of us.