It Will End, then What?
#ItWillEndthenWhat is the podcast for December 9, 2018, the Second Sunday of Advent. Why the boring stuff of history in the scriptures? It marks the beginning of The End and we are excited about that. Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Luke3 #Advent #Time #History #GroundHogDay #Paganism
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For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Fr. Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 12/9/2018 The 2nd Sunday of Advent.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 3:1-6.
We are two weeks into Advent and after the Thanksgiving holiday [in the United States] and there is no sweet Jesus in the scripture lessons. What is going on here for goodness sake? Why is there this boring recounting of who was in charge in Jesus’ day? Why are we talking about John the Baptist and not Jesus?
One of the unique things about Judaism and thus Christianity is our conception of God and time. At the time of the Hebrews, there were other gods and goddesses of other religions which had been perceived as the true god, but we hold, were incorrect. Other religions believed that creation was a part of god, or they did especially when they believed in a goddess. Goddesses allowed for the concept that creation was “birthed from a goddess.”
Often, the embracing of the goddess was to embrace the cycle of life. God was considered in all, especially nature, according to them. If we are to understand the goddess, we would thus understand the cyclical nature of life and come to terms with it. We would think of ourselves as living, dying, and living again in some other form. The focus then becomes to celebrate the cycles of our bodies. Even more, they believed that the god/goddesses came out of a chaotic watery substance that pre-dated their existence as a god/goddess. Now because, in their thinking, all is in god and god is in all, we are supposed to celebrate the “god within.” We then celebrate our own internal god-ness within, celebrating the “natural urges” we have.
The Gospel writers, and St. Luke is no exception, explode that notion of God by simply giving us a reference in history. By indicating that Tiberius Caesar was king, we know that John appeared after 14 A.D. By saying that Pilate was Prefect, we know that John appeared and Jesus was in ministry between 26 and 36 A.D. This is important because by placing an historical marker in the text, we know that God broke into history, into human life at a particular time, in a particular place. John receives the word of God and Jesus is alive and walking the earth as the God-man.
This indicates that creation is not a part of God. It means that creation is an “other” from God. That is the Jewish and Christian contention: creation is other than God, it was created. By listing the date of the King, the prefect, and the tetrarch, St. Luke is testifying that history and life are not of endless cycles where we discover a god or goddess within. He is saying that history has a beginning and it will have an end. He is saying that outside of that history is God. God has the ability to break into history to reveal himself to us. God is a person.
We get all that from the boring list of who was King, who was prefect, and who were the tetrarchs. Amazing, huh?
If God is a person outside of creation, then that means when the star at the center of our solar system dies, God remains. When the earth ends, God remains. When the universe dies, God remains. He remains and has a message for us. It is a message of good news.
You say, “How can the idea that the earth, the Sun, the galaxy, and the universe are going to end be ‘good news’?” I am glad you asked.
God breaks into history to call a people, the Jewish people, who hear the prophetic words of Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, and others which all tell of a forebear of the Messiah who will come to prepare the way for him. When that Messiah comes again, the second time, he will call to himself all those who believe. When they come to him, he will take them with him to a new heaven and a new earth, after the old heaven and earth die.
In the meantime, this forebear will call the people to repent BEFORE the end. The historical markers say, “There will be an end.” The good news is that of all the creatures that the Lord decided to warn of the end, he chose us. Of all creation the Lord wants to have with him after the end, he chose us. As one of my friends asks when something good comes around, “How can I get me some of that?”
We can, says John, by repentance. By turning away from the life of sin, we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Christ, both the first time and the second. Repentance only makes sense if there is an end. If there is no end, then there is just the endless repetition of life cycles, moon cycles, and other earthly cycles. There is no renewal. There is no change. There is just Bill Murray and Andie McDowell in Puxatawny, PA waking up on Ground Hog Day over and over and over again.
The Lord says, “You shall have no other gods before me,” because he was not created out of some chaos substance that existed before he did. He exists. That is the beginning. Before all creation, there is just God.
So, to put our trust in our connection to the earth is foolishness. It has an end. Even science has caught up with us to show how all we see around us will not last forever. So, in what should we put our trust? Earthly solutions or in the One who created it all? Should we celebrate our earthly cycles and human urges or do we celebrate our purpose and accept God for who he is, revealed to us as the baby in the manger and as the One who comes on clouds to judge the living and the dead?
By breaking into history, the Lord is also saying that what we do here on earth means something now and means something to our future. It means that he is Lord and calls us to live a life that is beyond the natural urge of self-preservation at all costs, the easy way out, or the fast buck. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves and to love God. By breaking into history, the Lord says that if we follow him, when it is all gone, we will rise with him on the Last Day. By breaking into history, the Lord is saying your life, every human life, has purpose, has value, and is important to him. Why would he bother if the Father in heaven just winds up a clock and lets it run?
If every life is important to him, then doesn’t it stand to reason that we should be asking what our purpose in this world is? What is God calling me, as an individual, to do to advance his mission? How should I treat others around me who also are important to the Lord? How should I treat others around the world and who I say are my enemies who are important to the Lord? How should I treat all of creation knowing that it was given as a gift of the Lord?
Finally on another note, in this holiday season, it might be easy to get lost in the sadness of our losses in the last year. But the idea of an end of the world and a judgment is filled with hope for Christians. The Father in Heaven cares about your loss. He wants you to know that when he comes again, every valley will be lifted up, every hill made low, and that his calling out is for all the world, which includes you. You are important to God.
So, repent. Prepare the way of the Lord. Salvation is at hand for the people of the world, and for you. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2018.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian