The World Today… Some Thoughts

I got a message from a high school classmate yesterday. She had a question to ask me. I thought about it for some time and recorded my response. Here is her question.

What do you feel about the world today and God and well I guess I feel that this is the beginning of the end times. Tell me what you think.

You ask about a topic that most people can only speculate about except perhaps, biblical scholars. That is, the part of your question about the beginning of the end of times. I would address that first. And, this is my personal view or thoughts on the topic.

The end of times is a very confusing topic. There is a history that complicates it for me. When I was a kid, we attended an evangelical church in Columbus, Ohio. It was my mother’s church and was only a block from my grandmother’s house. The first real memories I have of that church and a beginning of understanding about what the preacher was saying was with a preacher that found it necessary to read the headlines of the paper for the week and interpret how they fulfilled the prophesy of the end of times and the rapture of the church.

Well, here we are 50 plus years later and no rapture. No abandon cars on the freeway because the drivers have disappeared. None of the the things described in man’s interpretation of the Book of Revelation. 

The preacher of my childhood scared me. I was 8, 9, 10 years old and not only did I not want to hear about the end of the world, I was not ready, I had my whole life to live. All of this to say what? 

In the Gospels, Jesus tells us to do two things; love God and love each other. There was a seminary professor I knew who told the class one day that there was direct instruction from God and commentary from man in the Bible. The instruction was love God and love each other and the rest of the Bible was commentary. When I think about what is God’s will for my life it comes down to these two things. 

How I live my life must be in love of God and love of each other; that is God’s will. All the preaching from clergy and opining from laity about following God’s will and then giving a laundry list of the ways to do it is what one should be doing with their life is opinion and guessing and sometimes even nonsense. Love God. Love each other. Period.

All of this to say that I cannot and do not have the energy to give a lot of thinking to the question about the end of time. My energy and passion, in today’s world, is to make sure that in all that I do, I honor the love I have of God and work hard to be sure that I love and take care of my neighbor.

In the Episcopal tradition, we have our baptismal covenant. When we are baptized or anyone else in the tradition of our faith, we, among other things, promise to do these two things.

  • Seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves
  • Strive for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being

That brings me to your question of the state of the world today. I have three thoughts, rules even.

  1. Seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving my neighbor as myself
  2. Strive for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being
  3. When I am stuck on what is going on and my reaction to it, refer to rule #1 and rule #2

I am not being trite. I do not have answers, only questions. Not long ago, I was on Amtrak coming back to DC from New York City. I had to get off the train and do a pastoral visit, so I was wearing a clerical collar. A young man sat down next to me and before we left Penn Station in NYC, he turned to me, introduced himself and said, “I have questions.”

I looked at him, introduced myself and said, “Don’t worry, I have had some years of seminary and formation training and I have questions too.”

We had incredible conversation for 3 hours on the train. And after all that time, all we had were more questions. And to me that is the point. I do not understand much of the world today and I do not understand the behavior of people. The hatred and division of our country and the constant pursuit of wealth and getting ahead at the cost of others, It is not what the God I love has taught. But, it is the reality. My path however is clear.

Love God.

Love each other.

I wish God’s blessing on you as you search. I pray that you will find some peace in your questions and comfort in the never-ending love of God. 

In the Gospel reading for the service tomorrow, there is this.

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.”

Find the good, throw out the bad and continue to put one foot in front of the other. Because, when we quit marching, the parade is over.

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