[In response to "the end"...] "But the exact day
and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even
the Son. Only the Father knows.
"The Arrival of the Son of Man will take place in times
like Noah's. Before the great flood everyone was carrying on
as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded
the ark. They knew nothing -- until the flood hit and swept everything
"The Son of Man's Arrival will be like that: Two men will
be working in the field -- one will be taken, one left behind;
two women will be grinding at the mill -- one will be taken,
one left behind. So stay awake, alert. You have no idea what
day your Master will show up. But you do know this: You know
that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar
would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent
the break-in. Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when
the Son of Man is going to show up."
<The Message >
Advent is a most joyous time. We are relieved from any particular
action but that of waiting expectantly. No one knows the exact
day and hour. The "angels" don't know. The "son"
doesn't know. "I" don't know. "You" don't
know. What sweet to relief - not to know.
e.e. cummings has it that we are all so full of knowing that
we are empty, empty of understanding. To stop having to know
is actually a step toward understanding. What a weird way this
universe has been created.
To stop knowing is also to stop carrying on as usual, as though
these were not days of transition. If one knows anything about
the way the world works, there is a flood a-comin'.
Early after September 11 I might have thought that was a seminal
flood moment. It hit hard but it has not swept everything away
- particularly it has not swept away our attempt to handle human
issues mechanically and militarily. In fact this flood has in
many ways given us an excuse to do things in the same old way,
to not understand any more about our ability to know.
So one person was on a particular flight and other wasn't. So
one person was on a particular floor and another wasn't. So one
person is living your life and another isn't. To be vigilant
is not necessarily to know how to avoid sorrow, pain, and death.
To be vigilant may be to be ready to metaphorically pray, "Thy
will be done" and to go ahead and live in the midst of the
rain which comes to good and bad alike.
What will help here is not a small personal God to blame for
every "unfairness" and to manipulate to our advantage,
but the ecclesia - the community of love - in which we hold and
are held. When the flood waters beat upon this foundation they
lose their fearsomeness.
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