This weeks Gospel: Mark 13:24-37
Jesus said, “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.”
This week’s Gospel speaks of the end of time as we know it. If Jesus does not say when the end is coming. We won’t know either. BUT, Stay alert and keep awake because the master of our house has said so. While this has all been said before it bears repeating in more modern times. I’m not saying the end is near but, it’s best to be prepared for what we know will come one day.
Multiple times in my life time someone has predicted the end of the world: In 1975 members of Heaven’s Gate (as they called themselves) were found after a mass suicide in a house in California because they alleged the comet Hale Bopp had “signaled them” that extraterrestrials were here to pick them up. Harold Camping predicted the end of the world (several times) even providing dates (September 6th then the, 29, 1994 then October 2, 1994) when the world would end. Camping also said Jesus would return and rapture the church on May 21, 2011. Mr. Camping was a devoutly religious man and leader of a family Christian radio broadcast. He passed away in 2013. Camping finally did admit that no one could know the day or the hour of Jesus’ return into the clouds, AKA: the rapture, and ultimately, the end of the world. The number of people who have said the world would end in 1999 or 2000 boggles the mind. People including The Amazing Criswell, Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins, Pat Robertson, Sun Myung Moon and Ruth Montgomery to mention only a few. Scripture says no one will know the time, date or hour except God alone. I have heard people say that this pandemic is the end of the world. They said it about AIDS and Polio too, that it is going to wipe us all out and that it is God’s wrath. If that is the case only God can know that, so be prepared.
Our God is a loving and forgiving God who loves us enough that he sacrificed his son so that we, the entire human race, might have a chance to live. I cannot imagine that after all that, God would be willing to just kill us all with a virus. It just doesn’t make sense. I believe our God is a loving and forgiving God. But it never hurts to always be prepared.
This week is thanksgiving. A time to be thankful for all that we have. While we have had some type of Thanksgiving celebration as far back as President George Washington. President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 declared Thanksgiving a national holiday during the civil war. President Lincoln almost sounded like the writers of our 1928 prayer book when he said that Thanksgiving was to be celebrated,
“As a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
I do not know about you, but I love it when our leader‘s use language in this manner. Parts of our prayer book are so full and rich with language just like this that it is a joy to read it. It’s the “LIT” part of our liturgy. Our Bible based book.
This Thanksgiving and the day after will undoubtedly be different than in years past. Many people are not gathering in person this year so that they have future years together. Try to take a moment and spend a moment with those you love either on the computer, phone or in person. Know that you are a beloved child of God and that this pandemic will not last forever.
Peace be with you