In our Gospel lesson from St. Mark, Our Lord says, “I assure you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. The heavens and the earth will pass away, but my words will not. As to the exact day or hour, no one knows it, neither the angels in heaven nor even the Son, but only the Father.” We have spoken before about this word “generation” and the different things it can mean, in this case what is meant is not the lifespan of the people who were there, but the lifespan of the Church. Jesus was speaking of the generation of the Church, and according to the Orthodox Study Bible, “Christ’s prophecy is that the Church will continue to thrive until his return, regardless of how desperate things may sometimes appear.” As the Body of Christ we have nothing to fear about the “end of the world”, if it is truly the end brought by the Return of Christ. However, there are any number of things that human beings, or the planet itself, can do that will bring about what may seem like the “end of the world”: Fire, flood, storm, volcano, earthquake, famine, drought, economic collapse, war, civil unrest, disease, genetic pollution, bio-terrorism – I could go on, but the point is, we may bring on the end of the world as we know it, the end of civilization, and still have to live in the world afterward. Our destroying ourselves is not Christ’s cue to come back – our sinful, foolish self destruction will not speed up God’s timetable. According to Scripture, God is being patient with us, giving time for the world to be converted – so if we have a desire to speed up the end, then all we have to do is successfully evangelize the world! Something the Church has been working on for over 2,000 years, and it’s not done yet. Every few years someone comes up with another theory, another day, that the world is going to end, currently it is the so-called Mayan Apocalypse a little over three weeks from now on December 21st. Personally I am not worried about this, because Our Lord said that NO ONE KNOWS the exact day or hour, so I don’t think the Mayans did either, even if that is what their calendar says, which it isn’t. There are people, especially in this country, who are stockpiling food, water and weapons, building homes off the grid in order to survive whatever is coming. That, to me, is a short sighted, narrow minded, closed hearted response to the situation. It’s an US vs THEM attitude, and for a Christian there is no THEM, we’re all US. If we want to survive any of the above named disasters, as well as the true end of the world when Christ comes again in Glory, then the only way to do it is to live a life of faith, love, hope, mercy, forgiveness and joy, and work to build a community with the same virtues, as Rev. Sister Susan said last week, live in the Kingdom of God NOW. Most people who are hurt in natural disasters are not injured by the disaster itself but by the human greed, viciousness and incompetence that comes after. The only way to change this human element is in Christ, is in proclaiming and living the Good News.
Is it actually possible that we can build a world like this? Possible? Yes. Probable? No. Sin and the evil one have too strong a hold on people’s egos, most people still think of themselves first. So, no, I don’t think that we can transform the world – but we can transform here, this place, this small community of people can be a seed of the Kingdom of God, we can live a transfigured, holy life and be a catalyst for others to do the same. We can be Christ in the world, be Christ’s hands, feet, voice and heart to those for whom he suffered and died. And we can do that no matter what is happening in the world around us. We need to strive to be like those of whom the Prophet Daniel said, “The wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead many to justice shall be like stars forever.” So as the old hymn says, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna make it shine.” We need to make our light, the light of Christ, shine in the darkness of the fallen world. If we are giving that our full attention, we won’t have the time or energy, or need, to be afraid, or to worry about what might happen. There is an old story that the angels of the highest rank – the seraphim – have, from their creation, been so focused on praising God that they never even noticed the rest of creation. We, being part of that creation, have to notice it, but it should not be our primary concern, our focus, just like that of the seraphim, should be on God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and doing God’s will in the world and in our lives.
The end will come in God’s time, our attitude until then should be: Lord, when you appear, find us working, watching and waiting for you. Amen. So come, Lord Jesus. (+)
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