Ready or Not ...
... here IT comes!
You can replace 'IT' with what you will. Weeks ago we thought we were 'ready' for Hurricane Sandy because we thought all the hyperbole was just that - unfounded exaggeration. As it turns out, many of us were not nearly ready enough for the destruction that ensued.
Year upon year there are events that we try to get ready for: a birthday, a wedding, a divorce, a baby, a job, a holy death, a retirement, a move. Some of us become preoccupied with preparedness for significant large-scale changes: the meteorological effects of climate change, the dissolution of government and commerce, nuclear war, widespread drought or famine.
Ready or not, things will happen. How will we spend our time before the 'next big thing'?
As we near the very end of the l - o - n - g season of Pentecost we are being primed for Advent. Be aware, be prepared, make yourself ready. Before it is on our doorstep, how will we prepare for the coming of Jesus? Mark your calendars for December 2nd!
Friday Focus: He is Near
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
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.
A Self-Guided Online Retreat
Rev. Suzanne Guthrie has offered one and all the opportunity to take a self-guided retreat based on the lectionary for November 18th - this upcoming Sunday.
To take an inward journey that will take as much time as you will allow for it, simply click on this link: http://www.edgeofenclosure.org/proper28b.html
Thank you Suzanne for providing us with the guideposts for a personal retreat as our liturgical year winds down and Advent appears on the horizon.
Jesus is at it again!
He asks us to look closely at what people do and the manner in which they conduct themselves.
The scribes - part of the Temple hierarchy - paraded themselves around, demanding respect and assuming the deference of the Jewish people. Christ didn't suffer these self-important people easily; they were not behaving 'in the beauty of holiness'.
True humility looks becoming on anyone - more becoming than fine robes or premium seating or unsubstantiated florid prayer styles. Putting on the mantle of self righteousness is clearly unbecoming.
The widow practiced humility, duty and sacrifice without fanfare or the attention of others, quietly dropping her offering into the treasury.
No, 'a penny' is not much to put into the treasury but it was her all, not her surplus.
We, too, are challenged to maintain a sense of gratitude and humility for all we have been given and all that we are privileged to give. God grant us the grace to be instruments of Divine peace, generousity and servanthood!