Monday, November 16, 2009

November 16, 2009 Pastor's Letter

The “end times” are a confusing and sometimes frustrating conversation. And there are plenty of voices contributing to this confusion.

There are many things we know in faith, from scriptures, and from our own experiences with God. We know that God will be with us – to the end. We know that Jesus Christ, in his resurrection will also be with us, through life, through death and even beyond death into the resurrection. We know that God is good, God is faithful and God is trustworthy.

But there are also many things that we question. Are the writings concerning “end times” in the Bible – are they predicting exact moments in the future? Are they responding to the world as the writers knew it, or are they supposed to transcend time and space, speaking to us as well. Were the writers of these “end times” writings in a place of their own end times that forced them to think about such issues? Would places like jail, or certain death influence these writers in certain ways?

Biblical scholars use the term, “eschatology” to describe the study of theories about the end times. Notice however, that eschatology is not the study of the end times themselves, but rather the theories about the end times.

Good eschatology helps us make sense of the present in light of what we know in faith about how God wants things to end. Good eschatology helps us to understand what it means to live in the “already” while also looking forward to the “not yet.” Bad eschatology reads the Bible’s verses as if they are tea leaves, trying to learn from them what Jesus says that no one knows except God – when it will happen, who will be saved etc. Bad eschatology tries to answer questions, that currently have no answer, well at least no better answer than “not yet.”

The book of Revelation is filled with confusing metaphors and images that can complicate our understanding of the end times. And while we need to take care in studying any “end times” scripture, giving it proper examination and scrutiny, I think one of my seminary professors sums up the book of Revelation, and any “end times” scripture or conversation in two words. It only takes two words to provide a good eschatology about the end times. GOD WINS.

Many people have turned the “end times,” into a dark and scary thing, but it is really good news. The end times and the second coming are the promise that the future of all creation is in God’s hands, and God wins. So we do not, and should not worry about it these end times, because they are in God’s hands.

People have tried over and over again to read the tea leaves, to look into their crystal balls, or to read their Tarot cards. While I’m confident they have not been able to predict anything, whether they are able to predict anything or not is beside the point. The point is that God wins. The future of all of creation, including each and every one of us, is in God’s hands. There is a promise and hope in that – and God Wins. And this is good news.

Out of all this confusion, out of the many questions that may come up regarding the “end times,” there is still a bottom line. What is that bottom line you might ask?

It is this: Do not worry. Our future is in God’s hands. This is Good News.

In Hope…… Laura

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Responding to this blog is so difficult, I can only imagine what it must have been like to originate it. Having studied theology of the "end times" since I was a child, fear was the best way I could describe the effect of these studies. My personal revelation came the day I realized I was ready to give all in the "end times" but wondered how to carry Christianity into the workplace. Once you leave fear at the cross - and realize God truly wins at life - the yoke is easy.