Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Faith Works 5-28

Faith Works 5-28-11

Jeff Gill


Prepare For Sudden Stops




If you watch video on a slow internet connection (is there any other way?), you are well familiar with a certain awkward reality.


Take anyone, no matter how handsome or lovely, well spoken or practiced in public presentation, and then stop the video at a random moment.


They will look silly, or worse.


If you take any one of us, and pause at a point in time, you will see eyes closed (or one eye half closed), mouth askew, or hands flapping oddly. The fine photographers of the Advocate know this all too well, too, which is why they love digital technology – take hundreds of pictures, and only one or two are recognizable and useful. You don't have to squint at rolls of film by red light to figure out which to develop, and toss most of even that selected set.


In a grim sort of way, death is like that. Most of us will not have lots of advance knowledge (it's why ministers joke about scheduling funerals), and even those who have an inkling are usually not expecting that unwelcome guest when it arrives.


So it's not usual to have to sort through pockets and drawers and in-boxes of people who have recently passed and find yourself feeling a bit embarrassed for them. You just know they were not planning on having anyone see this aspect of their life, or deal with their flaws and foibles, and figured they had a bit more time to arrange their public presentation for a general audience.


You could call it "the end times," if only for that person.


Last week, there was quite a bit of jovial mockery, some of which I willfully participated in, about the fringe pastor out west who had declared a set day AND time for the Rapture, or "ingathering of believers to God" with the End of Days, aka Eschatological Apocalypse, scheduled for Oct. 21.


As you may know, the world did not see (as far as we know) a taking up into the air of Christ-followers, and there was an all-too brief silence from this gentleman who became a media celebrity.


Apparently overlooking Deuteronomy 18:22 (let alone vs. 20), he's taken up his notes, peered through them, and decided to double down on dumb and assert that Oct. 21 is the day of departure, not of destruction, and later events will follow in due time.


Summer vacation spots no doubt breathed a sigh of relief.


Let's be clear: I'd never heard of this guy before his end of the world pronouncement, and neither had just about everyone. He got lots of attention when plenty of minor preachers and prophets labor in anonymity because he set up conservative Christians perfectly for abuse and derision. Seriously, you could do this story every month in this country alone, daily if you combed Africa and Asia for end-times predictions, but the key was a major purchase of billboards and ads which made this story both unavoidable and irresistible to general media.


Do I think he's sincere? I don't even know enough about him to answer that. He's 89, which tells me one thing: with all due respect, he's got a judgment day facing him soon. Personally, he's got the odds on his side for predicting an end to it all one day that's sooner than later.


What we're in danger of losing in all this mess is that each of us, relative to time and eternity, have a full stop coming not too far down the track. It's not always well marked, and while the point is very much to enjoy and make use of the journey, the end is a summing up, at least for others to make if not for us to witness.


The life of faith says we have a perspective on that final review, and we can face it with confidence because God wants us to expect it, to not fear it, and sent Jesus to show us with his life, by his death, and through his resurrection that it's all gonna be OK. We've played our part, made our faces, missed our cues, and stumbled on our entrances, but it's not our show to ruin, so be of good cheer.


Our lives, this world, time itself will end. Knowing that shouldn't give us despair or cause us to chase ever more desperately after satisfactions that won't last anyhow; an awareness of our end should guide our todays, with one another.


The fact that we might get caught looking foolish, in a last photo, or like the preacher in California, isn't really the problem; not living thankfully in the time we're given might just be the real embarrassment.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him a story at knapsack77@gmail.com or follow Knapsack @Twitter.

No comments:

Post a Comment