The Rev. Janice Ford, Rector
The Church of the Reconciliation (Episcopal)
According to the Mayan calendar, the world will end on December 21. Some people are really taking this seriously. I recently received a call from a young woman asking me if I would baptize her daughter who was six months old. Since the young woman was not a member of our parish, I asked her the usual round of questions regarding her desire to have her daughter baptized. She then added, “You know, the world is going to end on December 21st, and I don’t want my daughter to go to hell.” Yikes! In addition to the multiplicity of theological issues inherent in her comment, I was dumbstruck by the fact that this young woman actually believed the Mayan prediction.
What is interesting is that Jesus also dealt with the question of the end-of-time. Jesus wanted his disciples to know that the world they knew would come to an end, and that God’s kingdom would come in its place. However, Jesus also said that even he did not know when that would happen. As Christians, it seems almost blasphemous for us to think that the ancient Mayans would know something Jesus did not.
When Jesus spoke of the end times, he did so as a means to make two important points. The first was that when the end time came, he would return and gather to himself both the living and the dead. He wanted the disciples to understand that he would not abandon them (us). The second point was that, until the end time came, what his followers (we) did here mattered a great deal. He wanted them (us) to live in accordance with his teaching; that is, to bring the Kingdom of God—mercy, compassion and hope—to fruition in this world. So, when Jesus spoke of the end times, he offered his disciples both a promise and a challenge. Over the past two thousand years, that promise and challenge has been passed down to us.
Why did Jesus not know the exact time when the end would come? We will never know with certainty the answer to that question, but if I may boldly offer a possible suggestion it is to say that it partly depends upon us. If we can bring the Kingdom of God to this world by virtue of offering mercy, compassion and hope to everyone, then God will look at what we have done and say, “It is finished.” That is when Jesus returns for us and keeps his promise.
So the greater question may be whether we will ever be able to obtain the Kingdom of God here in this life. I doubt that it will ever be done to perfection because we are so very flawed and subject to temptation. However, I do think that it is possible for us to make such a valiant attempt that God will be pleased enough to send his Son to us once again. Only the Creator God knows when that will happen--not even Jesus, and certainly not the ancient Mayans.
- Friday, 23 November 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Religion