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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Focus: He is Near

 But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened,  and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” Mark 13:24-37 

A candid confession: I have never been very comfortable reading about the end of days, much less preaching about it. The idea literally scares the hell out of me. But, doubtless, that is what God intended. It’s a stark reminder that our loving God is not a pushover. He is forgiving, but he is just.

So what are we to take away from these dire predictions? First of all, it is the revealed word of God. We can quibble with it. We can deny it. But we’re not going to change it. We must live with it. And more than that, we must learn to embrace it. Whether our own personal end times comes individually or as a species, it most surely will come. And in the context of eternity, the distinctions are marginal. How God chooses to gather us home is his business. We pray for a merciful passage. But his will be done.

I’m sure that from time to time most of us share Woody Allen’s sentiment that: “I’m not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Hopefully we’re not as fixated or neurotic as Woody. But his is a natural, human reaction to the uncertainty that surrounds the certainty of mortality. The difference is we have the ultimate ace in the hole.

We know with certainty, that this life is not all there is. We are not facing our end. We are facing our beginning. Over and over Jesus has promised eternal life to those who believe in him. Through the Resurrection he conquered death and is a daily presence in the lives of all believers. And that is the secret of coming to grips with earthly mortality. As this week’s gospel tells us: He is near. Keeping God near, or more to the point, keeping near to God is what this life is all about. And whether our last moments are spent slipping peacefully off or in cataclysm, the destination is the same. We will all soon stand before a loving, but a just, God.

The big question is not if and when we go to God, but how we go to him. Do we go to face heaven’s Judge as indifferent or alienated strangers, or do we go as faithful children into the welcoming arms of our loving Father?  Whether it’s our individual judgment day, or the collective day of reckoning, it’s obviously not the best time to try to make God’s acquaintance. Infinitely better to have our familiar and constant conversation with God briefly interrupted on this side of life’s threshold and lovingly picked up again in his glory. He is near. Stay near to him.


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