The end of the world as we know it – Nov 14, 2010

I am nearly at a loss for words.

The good news that meets us in Scripture this morning

comes with a certain sinister nature that I don’t want to consider.

Our present circumstances – death and disaster, disease and dismay –

are too closely resembled in this mornings reading from Luke.

Context, however, can be a powerfully helpful thing.

 

When pressed for information about the meaning of his words about the holy temple

(soon to be destroyed…but how could he have known?)

Jesus launches a tirade against false prophets –

and offers his disciples a glimpse of what might come their way…

it is not pleasant.

 

Do not be terrified, he says (not a good start).

Horrible things are bound to happen – the end will not follow immediately.

Before it gets better, it will get worse –

do not be terrified, because before any of this happens,

you will have to answer for your behaviour

(of course they will, but how could he have known?)

 

Jesus is summing up his teaching to them with a warning –

not of the end of time – not an apocalypse –

but an earthly reckoning for those who are heavenly oriented.

 

 

 

Should you follow, Jesus seems to be saying –

should you grasp my teaching and learn to live God’s kingdom into reality,

you will have some explaining to do.

Because God’s Kingdom does not fit neatly into the reality of this life.

 

You will stand out – you will be questioned –

you will find yourselves speechless, abandoned and ridiculed.

Why? Because you will find yourselves with hope, among a people whose hope is gone.

 

We might be tempted to read these words

as proof that “the end is near…”

don’t you believe it!

To fall into that trap is to become a people without hope,

and that is not who we are.

 

We are people of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have a hope that is born in an empty tomb,

and there is no greater hope than that.

Ours is hope that puts to death our fear of death

without denying the reality of death –

we can live, not in the smug certainty

that we will be saved because of our belief,

but in the peaceful assurance that we are being accompanied

from disaster to disaster –

by the living reigning Christ,

without whom we could not take another step.

 

Because we are a gospel people –

because we have this cultural memory of the story of Jesus

from beginning to glorious end –

we are not dismayed by what seems to be a dire prediction of destruction.

The destruction will happen – is happening – has happened.

And what we know, without a shadow of doubt,

is that through destruction God’s greater purpose has been revealed.

 

At the cross – in the open, empty tomb –

we find our liberation.

Free from fear – full of hope –

we are saved from any expectation of disaster.

 

In our darkness, Christ has offered a shining light of hope –

and that is good news indeed

 

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