No church today. Waiting for Hurricane Irma to traverse the Florida peninsula. Plenty of time to think and pray…
Of course you’re going to hear about it. You’ve thought about it, too. How could you not? All the pieces are there: a total eclipse, back-to-back hurricanes hitting the United States, a devastating earthquake in Mexico City, scorching wildfires in the west after record high temperatures and years of drought, hatred and violence in places like Charlottesville, VA and nuclear war just over the horizon. Science fiction writer John Scalzi tweeted, “These aren’t the End Times, but it sure as hell feels like the End Times are getting in a few dress rehearsals right about now” (1:20 pm Sept 8. 2017)
[Jesus said,] “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26).
Just make sure you keep reading. “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). The coming of our Lord is good news for God’s people. We’ve been waiting for him, right?
Also check out the parallel passages in Matthew 24, where Jesus says, “Don’t panic! All these (things like wars, famines, earthquakes, etc.) are just the first contractions, the beginning of labor” (Matthew 24:4-8).
The best advice for the apocalypse-minded comes from Mark’s gospel. “When [the Son of Man] left, he gave his slaves instructions about the work they were to do…You too much keep watch!” (Mark 13:34-37). He left us with instructions. Just keep doing your job.
What’s our job? Trusting his promises, not anything of this world which is going to be gone someday anyway. Only his word will endure. Make sure you know his promises and speak of them often.
Mercy. Whatever we do for the least of our Lord’s brothers and sisters, we do for him. Our life of faith will lead us to works of mercy. Plenty of that to do in our current context.
Stay alert. The opportunities will present themselves. Don’t ask, “What are we doing to help?” as if you were disconnected from the process. Just help someone. Help someone live. Grieve. Start over again. Eat. Raise a family. Pray. Whatever is needed. Community happens, that is “we” happens, when we come alongside others and they come alongside us.
Our message really is an amazing one. Yes, the signs are there. When it’s over and recovery begins, we can assure people, “It’s not the end of the world,” and we help them take the next steps.
If it were the end of the world, things would be a whole lot better, wouldn’t they?