Thursday, December 1, 2011

The End is Near

I have often said to you that the Gospel often gets lost in our culture. Even among Christians, we often think of the Gospel as the minimum that we have to do to get to heaven- when the truth is that the Gospel is about getting you to heaven before you die.

Last Sunday, we started that slow and steady journey toward joy. The first candle on the Advent Wreath was lighted; the Chrismon tree already shines it light. A new Church/Christian year begins. Purple adorns the altar to remind us to get ready.

The First Sunday in Advent, the Gospel is always about what we call the “second coming”. This year, Mark (in the lectionary) gets to tell the story. Mark 13 is called by scholars the “little apocalypse”. That chapter is a mixture of stuff about the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple that everyone said would never happen. It also has images from Old Testament apocalyptic literature. When it’s all done here on earth, the sun will grow dark. The stars will fall from the sky. The whole universe will celebrate as Jesus Messiah comes on the clouds.

The Bible teaches us about beginnings and endings. Everything has a beginning and an ending. It all gets caught up in God’s great purposes for his world. There will be an end- to us- to the world.

When? Now, that’s the question, isn’t it? Some talk a lot about that. Announce that you’re doing a study on the Book of Revelation; a crowd will gather. But, as soon as they see that you aren’t getting caught up in a literal kind of interpretation and predicting the future, they fall away.

Remember poor Harold Camping who predicted the end in the spring of 2011? Then, when that didn’t happen, he set another date. Oh well, what are you going to do?

Mr. Camping read every verse of Holy Scripture but the one that says: “No one knows the day or the hour, not the son, not the angels, only God knows.”

No one knows. And yet, there’s something about the end that captivates us. The Psalmist says: “Lord, teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom…” As if, knowing that we end, that time runs out sooner or later, makes us wiser.

So, on the first Sunday in Advent, the church has us look at the great backdrop of God’s drama. One day, sooner or later, the end will come- mine or the world’s. So, be ready. Be on your guard. Watch!

If you need forgiveness, don’t wait; get it now. If you need to forgive someone, don’t wait; do it now. If you need to get your life straightened out, do it now. If you need to get back on track, do it now. You do not know the day or the hour; so, get ready. Get prepared. No one knows what tomorrow holds.

Advent begins with this pause on the journey. It is a time to reflect on the truth that all our times are in God’s hands. It’s a time to get our priorities right. So, we pray, and worship. We give extra to the church and to the needy. We open our hearts a little more because we know that one day it will be…over.

One day, God’s kingdom will finally come. God will overcome evil; love will overcome hatred. Someday. In God’s good time.

Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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