JULY 26, 2020 EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOSTAnd remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ -Matthew 28:20
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Jesus’ parting words for his disciples and friends as his bodily form leaves this world, promises his Universal Presence in this world. They are spoken as he commissions those who are with him, including some who doubt. He entrusts his ongoing presence and mission to people, now that include you and me.
As I have mentioned, I note an uptick of urgent concern – “Will we survive these days” — as a nation and as a world. It’s not a new and recent fear. The Book of Revelation has often been misused to “predict” the end of the world – which literature of its nature was never intended to do. Jesus says — he isn’t even privy to such information or speculation. So in essence, “get over your worry. Here’s how I want you to live in the meantime.” As recent as the 1800’s new movements arose and began that took scripture out of context. Books and movies were created – Late Great Planet Earth, Left Behind. Industries grew built tapping into fearful uncertainty — creating underground bunkers and mansions for those wealthy enough to “buy survival,” which seemed odd if not ludicrous to me. A few years ago buses drove around Wisconsin and other states for weeks, warning people of the Saturday night the end would come. Sunday morning those of us still “left behind” gathered to celebrate Jesus in the Eucharist. Many of us are still here.
Years ago Blessed Henri Nouwen addressed these concerns that draw interest in hard times. He said that threats give reason to wonder if we’ll survive. What is important is hope – the promise Matthew records – values we live from the kingdom we give ourselves to. Jesus is with us always — and our mission is to bring hope to the world, the kingdom of God – God’s love and the security offered through Christ Jesus. He has overcome sin, suffering and death, and his love is stronger than anything – including needless worry and speculation.
So if you are tempted to despair in these days, avoid it. Deepen your awareness in the peace Jesus gives – far greater than the threatening chaos and uncertainty. They will pass. God’s love is forever. That love and presence invite you to live joyfully with hope others may not yet know or have. Our mission is to live as God’s — people who embody love, and hope – times of despair, fear and conflict. It’s a promise — Jesus makes. No matter what, he is with you always.May God’s loving grace be your strong rock this day and forever, Fr. Steve