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  • Rev. Diane Curtis

Hope for Today, Hope for Tomorrow

Ephesians 1:11-23

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may perceive what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20 God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.



Who stayed up until 2 a.m. to watch the time change to EST?


I love sitting there watching the time on the cable box as it approaches 2 a.m. Then, in an instant it is 1 a.m. again! Of course, staying up in the spring to watch the clock change from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. is not much fun.


[A side note: we have heard the Daylight Savings Time will become permanent next year. Not true! The bill to do so was passed by the Senate but hasn’t been considered by the House yet. So, the time will continue to change in the spring and fall for the foreseeable future.]


That instant time change happens in a twinkling of an eye. Blink and you miss it as you are immediately transferred from one time to another. This reminds me of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:


We will not all die but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.


In the twinkling of an eye everything and everyone changes. Those who die are immediately in heaven – they are here and then there. Those who are alive when Jesus returns will become new creations, residents of the new earth and new heaven. All will live eternally in the presence of God. A joyous hope to hold onto as we live out our days on earth. A certain hope in God’s promise.


The author of Ephesians talks about inheritance in the beginning of this passage. Those who are believers in Jesus Christ think of our inheritance as heaven – what we will receive at the end of our earthly life. But there is more to this. Heaven is there, in the future, and here, in the present.


A story is told of a noble British line that owned a large castle. Unexpectedly, the middle-aged Duke died. He had no heirs, so his brother inherited the entire estate. It changed his life forever. He and his wife decided to create something special on the estate rather than just go and live it themselves. They created spectacular gardens on the property and then opened them to the public so others could enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.


This is the type of inheritance talked about here in Ephesians. Not an inheritance we usually think about. We look at an inheritance as the assets one will receive, particularly how much money one will get. Ephesians describes an inheritance that is much more than land or assets.


In Jesus day (and before), the land was the ultimate inheritance. The land, which was passed from generation to generation, was the source of identity for a family. Through the land, a man knew what tribe of Israel he was part of.


God’s inheritance is much greater. You may have heard that God’s inheritance includes the whole world. No part is left out. It even includes heaven. Sometimes when we consider that future inheritance we think only of heaven, where we will spend eternity with God. Heaven, though, is only half of the inheritance. The other half is all of the earthly creation. God doesn’t leave that part behind to rot away. We read in Revelation that there will be a new heaven and a new earth that will become one.


When we say the Lord’s prayer, we ask God that his will be done on earth in the same way it is done in heaven. The prayer points us forward to what will come by telling us that what we do now matters now, not only later.


We are called to more than doing what we consider is right now in our own mind. As people who trust in Jesus Christ, we are signs that point to the hope of heaven while walking in God’s kingdom today. We are to point others to that hope and lead them on God’s path in the here and now.


God’s promise is made real to us by the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. We have received the Spirit as God’s gift to God’s people. The Spirit that was given at Pentecost to dwell within us as Jesus had promised. The forever gift that provided a means for Jesus to be with us always.


The Holy Spirit here is more than a leader or guide. The Spirit is part of the inheritance we receive. The Holy Spirit stamps us with the official seal marking the promise God has made with humankind. This seal is a guarantee of our inheritance.


Again, we aren’t to keep our focus solely on heaven. We can be looking ahead to the fulfillment of the future promise but are also to be living in the hope of that promise today. This may be akin to looking at a river through a pair of binoculars. With the naked eye, all we see is what is nearby. The binoculars help us to see farther away. We can read the names of the boats on the water and see the people on them, watch the birds flying overhead, and get a glimpse of the shore on the other side of the river. Applying this analogy to our spiritual inheritance, we see the world as it is in the moment and then a bit further into the future. We point the way to God’s future promise in heaven while walking the path to get there with a short view of what lies ahead.


Expanding the analogy, consider taking a powerful telescope and looking at the same river scene. You can still see the same scene you saw with the binoculars, but now with more detail. The faces and colors of clothing of the people on the boats, details of the birds, and a clear view of the shore on the other side of the river. In addition, you may see boats you didn’t know were there before, fishermen on the bank of the river, or birds floating on the water.


We live in the here and now with a short vision of the future. The Holy Spirit gives us eyes to see far beyond to the sure and certain hope that awaits in the glory of heaven.


If we are to be people living today and pointing others to hope, we are to point them towards the hope they can experience now. Many people don’t feel very hopeful with the state of their lives. Many wonder if anyone even cares about them so telling them there is hope right now probably doesn’t help much.


Rather than telling others about the hope that comes through Jesus, we are to be those who bring hope to people. To go out into the world and invite others to experience the difference hope can bring by being Jesus hands, hearts, and feet. Reaching out to everyone regardless of who they are, where they come from, or what they do, all belong to God in the here and now and are invited to experience the hope God offers today.


Today as we celebrate All Saints Sunday, we remember those who have gone before us into eternal glory. These are often the people who have made a difference in our lives, who have impacted us. A parent, sibling, family member, friend, or mentor whose presence in our lives touched us in a way that changed us forever.


We remember these people today, while, at the same time, reminding ourselves that we, too, are saints. Saints aren’t only those who have officially been declared a saint and have a formal name. Saints are all those who believe in Christ and seek to live for and serve him every day.


Let’s remember that we are offered hope for today and hope for the future. There is no greater hope than that found in Jesus Christ.


Amen.


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