Friday, December 05, 2008

Home of the Temporary

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness."
-- 2 Peter 3:11-13 (Reading for Advent 2, Year B, RCL)

December 7, 1941 -- Attack on Pearl Harbor
January 28, 1986 -- Challenger Disaster
September 11, 2001 - Terrorist Attacks
October 1, 2008 - Beginning of Stock Market Decline

These dates are perhaps some of the more notable ones in the last several decades. They each were memorable and, in most cases, pivotal events for a generation. Certainly other events,. many of them tragic, could be added to the list. The point is not the events themselves, but our reaction to them as human beings. I would submit that many of those reactions include elements of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). The events have measurable effects on our lives. However, the question might well be asked: How does our faith as Christians affect our view of such events and our reaction to them?

This is not a hypothetical question, especially during these times of economic uncertainty and terrorism. We live in a very, very fearful time. There are many churches either in decline or just hanging on. There are many people just hanging on as well. It is quite likely that at least the next two years, and perhaps many more years beyond that, will be years in which things which were formerly thought stable and permanent give way to things that are obviously transitional. This has been happening in many ways in the church already--the emergent church movement being a prime example. We also have that occurring in the political arena--after 16 years of Baby Boomer presidencies (Clinton and Bush II) we will shortly be inaugurating a Generation Xer. At the same time, the banking and automotive industries, arguably the backbone of our economy, are in serious transition and this last election gave a glimpse into the multi-ethnic and multicultural world in which we live. Nothing is permanent. In other words, we have boarded the ship and left the dock.

In the midst of all of this transition, it would be well for us to remember the above passage and others like it. They remind us that the only think that is permanent is God and God's love for us. Nothing else will last. In fact, the world was specifically designed not to last! Kind of a cosmic planned obsolescence. That doesn't mean we should hurry it along with unwise environmental, economic, and political choices. What it does mean is that we should keep in mind that this is not our home and that it is not permanent. We cannot do anything about the transient nature of life. What we can do is live "holy and godly lives" while we are here.

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