Friday, May 25, 2012

Ahem....


Many thanks and Love to Sandra for posting this on my behalf.  I am unable to access my Blog through the Ship’s Internet connection, so I am relying on her to post this for me.  I am blessed!

Jesus said, ‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
39 ‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he* would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour’ (Luke 12:35-40).

Well, I hope you all have your affairs in order.  Time is short – just another seven months to go.  The end of the world is near!  On December 21, 2012 odds are that civilization as we know it will all come crashing down: the north and south poles will reverse, flooding the earth with deadly radiation and unleashing earthquakes.  Zombies will walk the streets and sexy young vampires will take their place at the top of the food chain…or at least that’s what Lord Media says….

Ahem… some say sarcasm is just anger’s ugly cousin, but I think it can be fun sometimes.

So what do we do about the fact that our Scriptures are filled with references to end-times and visions of apocalypse?  Hollywood and overzealous religious leaders have turned all our talk of end-times into a running gag and marketable commodity (like Christmas and Easter)…to their own profit.  I feel embarrassment every time I talk about the parousia (the technical term for end-times theology).  I start every discussion with apologies, yet, for the early Church, this talk was in the forefront of their minds.  How do we make the end-times applicable after 2000 years?

I believe there are two ways we can honestly engage the idea of end-times without going the Hollywood route or selling our possessions and hiding in a cave.  First, we need to acknowledge that Jesus never focused on the end-times themselves in his teachings, other than to list the signs which indicate that things are ‘going to pot.’  His focus was always on being prepared, being ready, living in the moment and not procrastinating (see the reading above).  Carpe Diem – Seize the Day – it could all be over tomorrow.  This was an easy theology to adopt by those who lived in Jesus’ day when people rarely lived past their 30’s and death was always one minor infection away.  “The Kingdom of God has come near,” Jesus proclaimed.  Now.  Here.  Not tomorrow or next week or down the road.  It HAS come near.  The end-times of waiting for the kingdom are over!  What are you waiting for?  I have found a Meditation on Death a particularly effective way to focus on this spiritual interpretation of end-times.  Prepare yourself in a quiet, prayerful and contemplative space and reflect upon those things you would miss the most if you know were to die tomorrow.  In addition to this “miss-list” take the time to write down the three things you must do in your last 24 hours.  Will the list reveal an inner selfishness or a disciple of Christ?  Where are your priorities right now?  If they need to change, change them.  If they align with the love of God, what are you waiting for?

The second way in which we can reclaim the end-times is through honestly reflecting on the theology of the Second Coming.  Though some of my teachers criticized me for it, I believe that the Second Coming must be understood as an analogy for it to have any meaning at all.  For there to be an actual date of Second Coming we must, in the same spirit, give Bishop James Ussher credit for discovering that the world was actually created on January 1, 4004.  I call baloney!  The stories of creation are attempts to, in one way or another, express that God is the source of all that is and that God is intimately connected with the world of which we are a part.  I believe that the Second Coming accounts are attempts to affirm that Christ comes to bring an end to suffering and reestablish things as they should be.  This happens every moment Jesus touches our lives and brings new life - it is a moment of resurrection.  It is world-chattering and miraculous, but as commonplace as, mercy, grace and forgiveness.

Take back the End-times and celebrate the reign of Christ in our midst.  What are you waiting for?

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