Tuesday, May 17, 2011

if the rapture comes, I'll blog on....

In case you haven't noticed, and I talked to one of my bishops today who hadn't, there's a lot of hype about the Rapture happening on Saturday, May 21 and the Tribulation ending by August sometime (which seems short to me for the Tribulation, but who am I to say: I'm a skeptic.)

In front of Yankee Stadium on Saturday evening, there were people with these interesting back-packs that had signs rising above them, foretelling 'the end'. They were handing out literature about it all, which, if they are right, won't have much of a shelf life.

Is the guy's name Lamont (or is he the politician?) it starts with an L at any rate, who wrote the 'Left Behind' series that has almost outsold the Bible world wide. The series is about the end of the world--the Rapture and Tribulation and all that--and is a runaway international best seller, translated into a gazillion languages making more money than the budget deficit of CT, NY and CA combined.

My question was to him--I hope you're not going to invest that money if the End is really near....

At our Clericus meeting this morning 6 priests, a deacon, a former Episcopal nun and a candidate for holy orders, joked and had great fun about the end of the world guys.

It proves my contention that 21st century Christians can't possibly imagine the mind set and the expectation of the early church who believed Jesus would be back in the morning if not in the middle of the night. When that urgency of life ended, the institution of the church began. "If Jesus isn't coming back soon," the church told itself, "we better get organized...."

Here's a distinction to help us all understand the urgency with which the early church lived.

Remember your last airplane fight. Remember how as you were being taxied out to get in line for takeoff, the cabin attendants showed you a video or demonstrated for you how to put on your oxygen mask, where the emergency exits were and how to disengage your floatation device.

Remember how much attention you paid to all that between making sure you had your ticket, putting your carry-on where it belonged and reading your book or magazine.

Now imagine the Captain coming on the intercom and saying, "Ladies and Gentlemen, in 10 minutes we are going to have to ditch this plane in the north Atlantic. Please listen to the cabin attendants' instructions...."

Ok, now we're talking 'urgency' and you would be paying attention with all your being. Like your life depended on it, which it would.

That's the distinction between how I (and probably you) listen to the faint buzz about the Rapture on May 1 and the way the early church thought about the end of days....

(We have Rhododendron around our back deck: one bush 11 feet tall, one 9 feet tall and one 7 feet tall, all full as punch and laden with little bulbs that will burst into bloom soon. I counted 130 on those three plants before I lost count. One has begun to burst already. I figure a few more days of rain and a warm day and our deck will be overcome by brilliant deep pink, almost red blossoms. The front porch has three plants as well. The leaves cover the whole of the front of our porch--11 feet or so, but they are only 6 feet tall. Just to the right of our walkway down to Cornwall Avenue there is an 8 foot tall Rhododendron plant. Taken together, we're talking about serious color about to burst forth. Hundreds of flowers.

Rhododendron is the 'state flower' of West Virginia, where I come from. Since they are further south, even though the elevation is higher, I can only imagine the Rhododendron is already in flower there. I remember it being early May when the mountains exploded in pink and red. I'm talking about driving up a mountain for 10 miles and having Rhododendron blooming solid on both sides of the road. What a riot of color that was...and is, I imagine.

Just imagine that kind of remarkable feast for the eyes. You can't look too closely because the roads over the mountains are narrow and very curvy.

But imagine it for a moment--10 miles, 20 minutes of solid Rhododendron on both sides of you as you ascend or descend one of those mountains that I know so well....Just imagine....)

My point being, you can imagine that drive through the mountains of Appalachia easier than you can imagine the Rapture happening on Saturday. You can probably image a trip to Mars easier than you can imagine the Rapture on May 21st.

I once confided in my friend Brenden McCormick (one branch of my father's family were McCormick's--though we pronounced it Ma-Com-ick, without the 'r') that I sometimes imagined that the Fundamentalists might possibly be 'right'. Brenden told me, "of course you can imagine that because you have an open mind and love questions more than answers. But let me tell you this," he continued, "the Fundamentalists never, ever, not for one moment imagine that you are right...."

I can, in one part of my brain actually imagine that the Rapture might come on Saturday (though I don't even know if I believe the Rapture is a real thing rather than a metaphor). But this I know and know fair well, those folks who are certain that the Rapture is Saturday, don't imagine for a moment, not a nano-second, that I'll be one of the ones Jesus takes....)

So, Rapture or not, I'll be here blogging about 'stuff' or, maybe, about the Tribulation....

Let's wait and see.

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.