As we approach the end of the liturgical year, scripture leads us to the “end times”, those descriptions of life on earth in those times just before the return of the Lord. They are portrayed as fearful times indeed, both in Daniel and in Mark’s Gospel.

Plenty of folks pore over these texts in some attempt to glean predictions and time. There have been historically, and are today, and will be tomorrow those who think they have “cracked the code” and can predict with some certainty when that Day shall occur.

Surely they are encouraged in that, given that the scripture writers, at least some of them, also placed words of prediction in the mouths of their speakers. In today’s reading from Mark, Jesus seems to reassure his listens that “this generation shall not pass away” before the end times arrive. Paul is another who seemed most sure that Jesus would return to them before all of them had gone to sleep.

Of course, it should give us pause when the likes of Paul and even Jesus himself were either confused on this issue, or misunderstood. That there have been plenty of Apocalyptic preachers down through the ages who have all been wrong should tell us something. Plenty of such men and women today have spent decades promising that Jesus would return “any minute now” and interpreting the events of the day as those “wars and rumors of war”  that scripture defines as evidence that the world was about to end.

Since Jesus did admit, that in the end he had no idea of the exact day, perhaps we should stop worrying about it too.

The ending of the liturgical year, and its reference to these “end times” should cause us to reflect on our passing year. Although we tend to push this reflection time to Lent, perhaps it is better placed here. The year is ending, life in many forms is going to its wintry rest. Although the next weeks will traditionally be busy for most of us, we are preparing for the great slow down that usually happens as we tuck into the winter and it’s inevitable pull toward hearth and home.

Most of us, upon reflection, can point to a good deal in the past year that we are weary of and glad to be finished with. We have, no matter what our lives, lived through tiresome moments, days and weeks. Whether you were weary of the election cycle, or personal events such as moving, or renovating, or welcoming or saying goodbye to love ones,  or friends, a new job, a job lost, or perhaps the confounding state of the world with its wars and droughts, its financial insecurity, or literally millions of other things that vex us and try our patience, we are glad they are past to the extent that they are.

It is a good time to reflect on how we handled these events. We were forgiving? Were we loving in our approach to differences of opinion? Were we compassionate? Patient? Did we pray enough? Did we let go and let God enough? Did we smile enough? Laugh enough? Care enough? Were our priorities misplaced? Did we try hard enough, too hard or just right? Were were unafraid, terrified, certain, confused? Where was God in all of these life experiences? Did we ignore God, take God for granted, implore his help and decry his apparent abandonment of us?

As you can see, there are myriads of questions, and only you can answer them.

Each of us needs make these assessments so that we are better prepared to face the unknowns of next year.

In that we are helped, for in a couple of weeks we will begin the celebration of the birth of our Lord. We will be reminded of his tender love and mercy and that He is with us always. We are comforted as we go into the mystery of a new year that we are not alone. He holds tight to us and guides us if we so allow. He provides us with comfort and assurance that this to shall pass.

The birth of a baby will signify all this and more to a weary people, who has forgotten once more that they need not go it alone.

We would do so much better to examine these end times scriptures in this way, than in the silly and unproductive way of which day, and what events are true portents of His coming.

He will come. He has come. You have just forgotten in your busy-ness.

Amen.

 

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Tim
    Nov 19, 2012 @ 12:36:50

    So lovely and so wise, Sherry. I join in taking a softer look at end-time rhetoric. We know that time will, indeed, one day cease. Yet investing so much energy in predictions and sign-watching distracts from the real work we’ve been given: bringing about God’s kingdom on earth. Time is of the essence. Every moment counts!

    Thank you helping us keep our perspective–particularly as we enter Advent, and pitch our hearts anew with expectation. It is, as you say, crucial that we reflect on where we’ve been this past year and determine whether and/or how we should go a different, better way.

    Blessings always–and I trust you and Parker have a joyous Thanksgiving!
    Tim

    Reply

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