Here’s my thoughts (what I took away at the end)…
The church is a broad and deep body of people that transcends time and space, it has no geographical or time boundaries. It is like the broad and deep Pacific ocean is a body of water… mostly there are no individual drops. I am not describing some kind of monism. I am thinking of our oneness in and with Christ and one another (John 17?).
To take this drop thing too far, I would say this… There are no individual drops in the ocean excepts for those created by the surface water being battered by storms. What does this tell us about being in the deep with God and one another? The deeper we are the safer we are?
Niebuhr writes: “Our decisions must be made in the present moment-but in the presence of historical beings (this book is all about those beings) whose history has been made sacred by the historical, remembered actions of the one who inhabits eternity.”
From all this I think: We learn to look back to help up see now and hope for the future. But as usual, don’t look back with regret, nor now in fear, but forward with hope in God. (This, I would propose, is a healthy existential position that is based of a hopeful eschatology.)