Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come … Revelation 1:4 (NIV)
Christians, bound as we are by time, live at the intersection of the past and the future. The past and the future, while distinct, are yet related because they both serve to shape our stories. The past shapes us by giving us a story of origin, identity, tradition and history. And the future shapes us by giving us a vision and goals to pursue.
In considering the relationship of time and faith I believe that in order to worship God, who is not bound by time, we need to bring both the past and the future into the present. This is done through anamnesis and prolepsis. Anamnesis is an ancient Greek term meaning “recollection” or “reminiscence.” In Christian usage anamnesis means the “drawing near of memory” and has its origins in Jesus’ words at the last supper, “… do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). Anamnesis therefore calls on us to bring a remembrance of the passion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ into the present. Prolepsis is another ancient Greek word which means “to anticipate.” In Christian usage prolepsis means “to take beforehand” and can be understood to be an invitation to flash forward and celebrate the promised future of Christ’s return.
Anamnesis and prolepsis – the remembrance of what was and the anticipation of what will come. So remember, and anticipate:
Remember the time when people took palm branches and went out to meet Jesus as he entered Jerusalem (cf. John 12:13) and anticipate the time when the twenty-four elders will lay their crowns before Jesus and say, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power …” (Revelation 4:11).
Remember the time when Jesus, with cloaks and branches from the trees spread out on the road for Him, entered Jerusalem on a young donkey (cf. Matthew 21:7) and anticipate the time when Jesus will ride a white horse with the armies of Heaven following Him (cf. Revelation 19:11-14).
Remember the time when Jesus came gently (cf. Zechariah 9:9) and anticipate the time when Jesus will come to conquer and make war (cf. Revelation 19:11-21).
What was and what will come; as you remember Jesus’ triumphal entry (cf. Luke 19:28-44) be sure to likewise anticipate Jesus’ triumphal return (cf. Revelation 1:7).