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Sunday Message for 2 December 2018: “The End is Dear”

Today’s reading from Luke 21:25-36 is a cautionary tale, about which Jesus cited profound environmental disturbances preceding the end of history. Jesus also admonished the listeners about being ready and alert as a way of preparing for the end.

The interesting part of this apocalypse topic revolves around timing and circumstances. All types of conflict such as wars, persecutions, evil rulers and genocides have occurred since Jesus’ resurrection. It can be argued that every generation since Jesus could claim that their era would be the last, and that the end of history was near.  Jesus said in Matthew 21:32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place.”

The problem with all the predictions is that most go nowhere. Jesus didn’t return during the generation of his listeners or at any other time. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 CE, dispersed the Jews and Christians, and yet Jesus didn’t return after the greatest calamity in Jewish history, all within decades of Jesus’ words. Did people of faith look to God wondering what happened to the promise? People still wonder today, and many remain perplexed trying to reconcile Jesus’ words with the irrefutable facts of history.

What are you to do with the contradiction between Jesus’ words and how things turned out?  It’s clear that wars, persecutions and all sorts of mischief happen constantly. Although it’s tempting to become fixated on matching biblical prophecy to news, terrible events arise in the world constantly. Each generation can make a convincing case that theirs will be the last. There seems to be a psychological need for some people to become obsessed with history ending because the thought of the apocalypse provides a strange comfort and predictability. Otherwise, people feel powerless and disconnected, devoid of a timetable that may alleviate emotional and spiritual pain.

More than ever, biblical prophecy has married itself to greed, raking in cash through seminars, books and movies which exploit apocalyptic imagery. Given this profiteering, no wonder that the end is dear to so many. Much of the apocalyptic talk is noise which distracts from the more important task of daily living. Trying to match this or that verse with what’s happening in the world seldom accomplishes anything other than make certain people rich and many more filled with dubious conspiracy theories. Don’t let this happen to you!

No one has a convincing argument about precisely how and when history will end. As always, the focus should remain on your attitudes and actions in the present, what you can do to serve God and love your neighbor. Whatever the source of disaster, the emphasis must remain on what you are doing with present opportunities and challenges. Heaven will come for each of us because no one is getting out of this life alive. With that sobering truth we can fully live in the present.

Are you ready to maximize your life? Being prepared means that you can receive God’s spirit and testify about your faith any time during the constant ebb and flow of wars, calamities and persecutions. While you may struggle with the when and where of the apocalypse, recall Jesus’ words in Matthew 21: 19: “By your endurance you will gain your souls.” By receiving and sharing God’s love and truth you are embracing life. You can never know for sure what God is planning or how the divine script has changed. Yet you have the assurance that God is with you no matter what happens. Keep up your spiritual endurance and neither your end or that of the world will rob you of spiritual peace.     –Reverend Hoxey