Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19, a prayer of awe as we see the magnificence of God’s Creation:
The heavens declare the glory of God,Psalm 19: 2-3
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge.
It is a steadying psalm that we might need because our scripture message is blunt (if not downright scary!). If yesterday’s sweet words from Wisdom were like “the rich colors of a vibrant Autumn or Spring day”, today’s are more like a dark, cold winter!
Basically our first reading says “Yes”- creation is magnificent, but not as magnificent as its Creator! You, learned humans, how could you have gotten stuck only half-way to that truth? How did you end up making gods from the very things that were supposed to show you the one true God?
In our Gospel, Jesus speaks even more starkly. He describes the “end times” when “one will be taken and the other left”. That reading always scared me as a child and, to be honest, still scares me a little. The popular “rapture literature” has monopolized on that fear. Nobody likes the idea of their buddy, sitting right beside them eating ice cream, suddenly disappearing, right?
And I guess Jesus actually was trying to strike a little healthy fear into his listeners too. He told them the vultures were already gathering. It’s late in the game. Get your act together.
Early Christians thought a lot about the end times. They expected them to come quickly after the Resurrection. Well, 2000 years later, our obsession may have cooled somewhat.
Nevertheless, an end will come to this life as we know it. And wouldn’t it be a shame if we had spent our precious worship on false and distracting gods like money, fame, power, luxury and self-aggrandizement?
“Wouldn’t it be a shame”, as one of our venerable Sisters once said, “to come to the end of your life and realize you had missed the whole point?”
Poetry: The Second Coming – W. B. Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Music: Abide with Me – Sean Clive