Wednesday, May 25, 2011
VICAR BUDDY STALLINGS' WEEKLY MESSAGE/St. Bart's Episcopal Church
All in all, I am really glad the world did not end last Saturday. Given my penchant for wisecracking, I was surprisingly restrained in my comments about all the drama leading up to it. The one "end of the world party" to which I was invited was very tempting but sounded like the potential for serious trouble since I have an early gig on Sunday mornings. One clear cost of aging for me is the cessation of Saturday night revelry.
The real reason I couldn't be too flip about the non-event is that I found all of it strangely and deeply sad. Let's face it: religion is a mess. The way it is practiced fails people over and over. Some of those who seriously expected the eschaton on Saturday are utterly bereft and in some cases worse than that -- they are broke. Even those who bravely now turn their sights to October 21st as the new end date must feel a bit duped. Once again the public face of Christianity has been sullied by extremism and silliness, both of which make me cringe.
It is easy -- and correct -- to note that there have always been those on the margins of religion, who cross the line into crazy-land. But we on the progressive end of the spectrum contribute to this by not speaking truthfully and clearly what we believe about such things. Often we say, "Well, no one knows, Jesus told us, when the end will come." While that is true (ish), that is just part of the story. We, most of us, do not believe that the world is headed toward some cataclysmic end, designed by God to once and for all divide the world into two camps, those who are in and those who are out. We need to say that with greater clarity and with conviction based on the way we interpret scripture and on what we hold to be true of God.
No, we do not believe that the God of our faith, the God who seeks the fullness of all creation, must resort to such a thoroughly human way of rendering resolution: "Since the world is not working according to a narrowly prescribed understanding of what is right and good, let' just blow it up!" Good grief! Even we could come up with a better solution than that. God's resourcefulness and imagination infinitely exceeds ours.
My son's birthday is October 22nd. I plan to celebrate it with him here on earth. Of course, I know that there is always the chance that I won't, but if I don't, it won't be because God decided to give up on all of us. I'll bet the farm on that!