Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Not Quite the End of the World



What a weird week. Without getting into it, it’s clear that the country will forever be changed. You can’t feel the changes right away, but you sense the shift. People are shocked, grieving, angry, exuberant, brash. At the same time, the earth is burning. Literally. Dozens of fires in the mountains are coating the valleys in smoke and eerie-colored skies. Nature and politics are colliding to paint a chilling scene. 

And with that, the reading this Sunday warned of the end of the world—when fire will purify us all or burn us away.

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
and the day that is coming will set them on fire,
leaving them neither root nor branch,
says the LORD of hosts.
But for you who fear my name, there will arise
the sun of justice with its healing rays.
(Malachi 3:19-20)

“When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.
Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.”
(Luke 21: 9-12)

For believers, the end of the world is not a scary image; it is the long-awaited conclusion, the relief from a fallen world. It is the waiting that hurts, the suffering, the stumbling, the abuse at the hands of others.

I wish it were easy. I wish being a Christian were not at conflict with prevailing social mores (both liberal and conservative). I wish Christianity were the guiding moral force. But the Church triumphs even when it’s out of power. Maybe it does even better when it’s out of power. I’m not in Syria/Iraq or Eritrea or North Korea. My life isn’t in danger for being Christian. But I am still challenged. The world is still burning. I must meet the fires in front of me before I can face the all-consuming fire. The Advent has just begun.

No comments:

Post a Comment