First Sunday of Advent November 29, 2015
An Advent attitude toward the apocalypse
“Apocalyptic” movies draw big money at the box office. Responding to the demand, Hollywood has shown tireless creativity in envisioning new scenarios for ending the world. This movie genre began with tales of global nuclear devastation, extraterrestrial invasions, and a marauding Tokyo-skyscraper-tall reptile-monster (with atomic breath, no less). It’s now extended to planet-devastating meteor strikes, worldwide computer networks gone amok, runaway global warming, and, of course, the ever-popular zombie apocalypse (shudder!). Different movies offer different flavors of apocalypse, but they share a common theme: “We’ve seen the future, and it’s dreadful.” Box office receipts suggest it’s a theme that resonates with people today.
When Jesus himself speaks about the end of the age, he recognizes this sense of “fear and foreboding” that fills many people’s hearts (Luke 21:26). But then he goes on to say something remarkable: “When these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, for your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). Did you catch that? For those faithfully about his business (Luke 21:34–36), Jesus says that the future leads not to doom, but to deliverance. This means that we can view the future (whatever it will be) not with fear, but with faith, not with dread, but with desire. In a world often frightened by the future, Jesus-followers are witnesses of hope.
Welcome to Advent, the season of unshakable hope. The Lord is coming, and the Lord is bigger than any apocalypse that may come (even that zombie kind!). Indeed, in our lives today, God is bigger than cancer, bigger than a social-media bully, bigger than a corporate layoff, bigger than any challenge that we face. Jesus holds the future, and he assures us that it is good!
David Geyer, pastor, College Hill Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania