I heard a good message in church today. It addressed the irony of Advent – that Christians often see it as a ritualistic practice of “waiting” to mark something that actually already took place – the birth of Christ. The speaker talked about other forms of waiting in times of “darkness” (Luke 21) — how relevant for the present! From a spiritual point of view, we wait for safety; we wait for a sign of hope; or if you want to take the Bible literally, we wait for the apocalypse and ultimately, for “redemption” to come.
To be honest, I have no idea how to interpret the biblical apocalypse. I flatly reject any notion of salvation based on fear — like ‘fear of end times’ and whether, on the day of ‘Judgement,’ we will be plucked and thrown to the good pile or burn in the bad. I am not too worried about my lack of orientation, because I agree with the speaker at church who said: Christ was not focused on urging us to worry about when it will happen, but above all, HOW we will respond to the dark periods in our lives, whatever form they will take. Apocalypse or not, we will experience trials and tribulations.
We are encouraged by him in Luke 21 to “stand up and lift our heads.” We are encouraged to remain hopeful that the power of good is stronger than the power of evil, and that in the end, justice – the power of good – will make things right. I read an article by a former jihadist who said: “How do you defeat IS? With love. Love another Muslim. Be brave and dare to love him. That destroys the ideology of IS.”
THE LAST DAY
A ploughman in Europe will look over his shoulder
And see the hard furrows of earth
Finally behind him, he will watch his shadow
Run back into his spine.
For the first time, and the long night
Will be seen for what it is,
A black flag trembling in the sunlight.
On the last day
Each from the end,
And each will hear the fields and rivers clap
And under the trees
Will cover themselves with flesh;
Spears, bullets, will pluck themselves
From wounds already healed,
Women will clasp their sons as men
Into their palms and find them empty;
There will be time
For us to say the right things at last,
To look into our enemy’s face
Forgiven now, before the books flower in flames,
The mirrors return our faces,
And everything is stripped from us,
Even our names.