prophets of a future that is not our own

“It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts: it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in this lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is the Lord’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No sermon says all that should 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.

That is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted knowing they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that affects 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 very, very 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 that is not our own.”

Often attributed to Oscar Romero, these are the words of Ken Untener

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Making his language bolder

Thomas Jefferson, asked to write the declaration of the United States’ independence for the Continental Congress, sat down with pen and ink and went to work on a draft. The draft has been preserved, allowing a glimpse of Jefferson the writer at work. Penning the memorable words of the declaration, Jefferson did the work of all good writers – the work of editing, of returning to his language, narrowing and sharpening it. Langguth writes:

‘We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable,’ he wrote…Jefferson struck out ‘sacred and undeniable’ and wrote in ‘self-evident’. He continued through his draft, paring words away to make his language bolder. From ‘that all men are created equal and independent’ he dropped ‘and independent’. ‘Rights inherent and inalienable’ became ‘unalienable rights’. His next phrase came straight from his pen and could not be improved. Jefferson struck off those rights as ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’.

O’Connor on writing

Flannery O’Connor, on writing (in a letter to Cecil Dawkins, 1957):

I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have, but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place. This doesn’t mean I produce much out of the two hours. Sometimes I work for months and have to throw everything away, but I don’t think any of that was time wasted. Something goes on that makes it easier when it does come well. And the fact is if you don’t sit there every day, the day it would come well, you won’t be sitting there.