Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 22 Sermon (5th Easter)

Well, it seems you all weren’t raptured yesterday; I had thought about just leaving my robe here with shoes…

For some, it was serious. They believed in the particular prophesy. His addition seemed right, it must be May 21. They were ready. Others thought it was joke and they held rapture parties to welcome the end of it all. My kids heard about it at school and asked “is it the end of the world?” No, I said. I am sad for all those kids whose parents gave up everything, and anyone confused or hurt by it all.

Its amazing that such an interpretation of scripture, that is under 200 years old, has gained so much notoriety. There have been many people who predicted the end before, that the rapture of the righteous would happen, and then it didn’t. You can look on Wikipedia, you can see the failed predictions, the origin of the rapture, those who believe such things, the pre-melenialists… Episcopalians (and many others) have never believed in such interpretations. Yes, Christ will come again, as we say in the Eucharist, but when, we do not know nor can we predict it. As one professor put it,
“Biblical prophecy tells us not the specifics of what the future holds, but who holds the future. We can know the most important thing about us: God is the one who holds our future.” (Barbara Rossing)
There is not some hidden code in the Bible for us to find, what we need is right there in the words before us. But let’s remind ourselves that we have bought into such symbolism, such leaps of reason. Anyone who has read a Dan Brown novel or watched one of the National Treasure movies, has believed such symbolism; that by digging hard enough, we can find the true meaning… Anyone who has read The Bible Code or been caught up with the predictions of Nostradamus, has thought about this. What was a big hit in 2009, the movie 2012, the Mayan calendar runs out and it’s the end of the world… (except that the Mayan calendar doesn’t really run out at all, but that’s another story)

So its not just some guy in California who through his own logic and his search through particular passages from scripture that he interprets & comes up with the date of rapture and a date for the final judgment, We too have worried about it… But will the end really be some violent destruction, with the chosen ones escaping from it and the rest of us sinners doomed to it?
“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
Martin Luther, the great German theologian, was quoted as saying that, which lies at another understanding of the end of the world. Not as destruction but completion of creation.
“Biblical faith promises the consummation of all created life, in all its range and diversity, in the end and fullness of time.” (William Stringfellow)
For many theologians, those end times, are not scary but instead they are full of hope. Its about God’s kingdom breaking forth and everything changing, the fulfillment of creation in God’s kingdom, what Jesus promised, but it is not about destruction. For God so loved the world, he would destroy it… that’s not it… For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son. God created this planet we live on, created everything that is, and sent his Son to redeem it, when we erred and strayed. We need not fear the end, or any of those predictions. When the disciples of Jesus grew concerned about his talk about his impending death, Jesus tried to calm their fears.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” Said Jesus.
Believe, don’t worry. Jesus – I go to prepare a place for you and I will be back for you. Don’t’ fear, I will be with you… Or as Julian or Norwich would put it:
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” (from her vision)
So if we need not worry about the end then what should we be doing?
“Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.”
Our focus is on doing the works of Jesus – that’s what we are to do now. For we know Jesus will be with us in what we do, as he said. The late Fred Rogers - Mister Rogers to five generations of young TV viewers - told this story of his own childhood in his 2002 book The Mister Rogers Parenting Book:

'When I was a boy I would see scary things in the news, and my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's comforting words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world."
Who today is doing what Jesus asked? Think of the helpers, as Mister Rogers would say… In the midst of this Easter season – we must remember Jesus has brought all of us new life. For
“Christians are those human beings who live now within the efficacy of the resurrection.” (William Stringfellow)
We live in the brightness of Easter, no matter what doomsday or other crazy predictions some come up with… “Its the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine,” is how the rock group REM put it in their song of 1987. It could be our theme song. We need not worry about the end, we are all ready, we feel fine. What we need to focus on is the here and now. So let’s go out in the light of Easter; lets do the work of Christ, being those helpers that Fred Rogers talked about. Heck, lets go plant a tree too. Amen.

No comments: