May 19, 2011

Jesus is coming!

I've really tried to ignore all the May 21st Rapture talk going on, but today I caved in and read an interview with the group's founder, Harold Camping, posted on the CNNBelief Blog. It really is quite scary, his vision for the rapture, massive earthquakes that by then end of the 24 hour day that is May 21st will cause the end of the Earth. What is scarier to me is the way in which the folks who follow this man are spreading the message; leaving everything they know, giving away everything they have, to spread the news that God's so angry that he's going to destroy his creation (before saving those who since the 1994 end of the Church age (Camping's last failed prediction) belong to right believing churches).

What is amazing to me is how apropos the Sunday Lectionary is given it will be read the day after the world is supposed to end. Jesus and most of his disciples are in the upper room. The Last Supper has been consumed, feet have been washed, Judas has left to finish the deal, and Peter knows that three times he will deny his friend and Rabbi, and then Jesus says,

"Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and Trust in me. In my Father's house there are many mansions, and I'm going to prepare a place for you. I'll be back to get you, but in the meantime, you know where I'll be."

Jesus will spend the next four chapters, roughly 20% of John's Gospel, telling his disciples how to live in his absence. They will be left behind. He shares with them that while the final destination is good, their job is to make the here and now just as good. The Spirit will work alongside them, prod them, lead them, but it will be their hands, feet, mouths, ears, that will be God Incarnate while Jesus is gone. As the note in my HarperCollins Study Bible says, "14.12-14 Believes are Jesus' successors and Jesus 'returns' through their work."

Jesus will return on Saturday. I can guarantee it. It probably won't be the way Camping and his followers have pictured it, but in the midst of tornado debris, in hospital rooms, in pulpits, around dinner tables, Jesus will return when his disciples do the work that he left for them to finish, declaring the Kingdom of God, bringing good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, letting the oppressed go free." (Luke 4:18).

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