It should not surprise us that another attempt at figuring out, reading the tea leaves, guessing, has failed. It seems that from the very beginning people connected to the Christian faith have been tempted to figure it out, to give a date, to make sure that people have an opportunity to prepare. We might begin our exploration of this phenomenon in the New Testament where in the book of Thessalonians where its author tells the church:
As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.
(Thessalonians 2:1-2, NRSV)
From the very beginning, there has been a hope, a fear, a mystery around events leading to the end of time.
This latest "prediction" has brought about much press, mockery, and satire. It is embarassing that each time it is mentioned, the word "Christian" is connected to it, as if all Christians were somehow connected to this latest false prophet.
This morning my main concern is not about the Christian tradition getting a bad name (after all we have done that to ourselves many times). What is rolling through my mind is that we are people who believe that God will make all things right in the end through Jesus. The Christian hope includes an understanding that death does not win, evil is not victorious, nor illness, nor pain, nor poverty, nor injustice. Someday there will be an end to things as we know it and a new day will dawn, a renewed creation, a new heaven and a new earth.
My prayer is that in the midst of another crazy false prophet, we in the Christian faith don't easily give into the desire to reject Christ's final in-braking in the world. Maybe occassions like this one could become another reminder to take the words of our liturgy seriously when we pray, gathered around table,
By your Spirit makes us one with Christ, one with each other, in ministry to all the world. Until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet.
(The Great Thanksgiving, Word and Table I, The United Methodist Hymnal)
There will be no rapture . . . but Christ has promised to come again, to make all things new. May we as God's people continue the work of God's kingdom, deepening our discipleship, gathering to be empowered by the Spirit, being agents of God's Spirit for the transformation of the world, Maranatha! (Our Lord, come!)