Sunday, May 22, 2011
End of the World Preacher
The coffee shop was empty. It was Saturday evening 6:30. Victoria Holiday Weekend. Four young staff leaning on counters, silenced by my arrival.
"I don't understand it" I said. "Everywhere I have gone this afternoon and evening things have been slow or empty?"
One of them piped up, "We're just waiting for the end of the world." The girls giggled awkwardly. The one at the till tried to concentrate on what I wanted in my tea. She didn't know whether to straighten up with me or continue in the light mood.
Of course they were referring to the doomsday message of an elderly California preacher which had gotten much press to the effect that the Apocolypse was going to occur. Evening television, street-side demonstrations, newspaper, internet. May 21st. The End of the World. Disrespectful "rapture" parties in various locations. And rapture jokes "like there's no tomorrow".
I had discussed the whole farce the day before with Dave, a workmate and pastor of a Latin American church fellowship in Kitchener. We agreed that the devil had used the item to ridicule the blessed hope of the Church; the return of Jesus to catch away His faithful ones at some point in history before the commencement of an unprecedented era of evil on the planet. (1 Thessalonians 4; Matthew 24)
Dave was quick to add that he thought there would also be a quickening of curiosity as to the real meaning of the rapture event. I had to agree. I had spent years in a liberal church which taught nothing about the Second Coming or the supernatural removing and rescue of the Church. (Then I moved into a Full Gospel group which spent too much time considering prophecy while their neighbourhoods suffered and wandered about Christ-less.)
I paid for the tea and asked the young girl for a pen. I stepped aside for the benefit of another customer who had arrived. I wrote down the scriptures above-noted and handed the napkin to her, "These are the places in the Bible which speak of the real deal, the real return of Jesus and the real rapture. Have a look. They are serious business. They are also wonderful."
She took the paper.
At some point in this kind of conversation many church folk would interject that, of course, Jesus had said that no man would predict the day or the hour, that it would come as a thief in the night. I fear that this admonition can be given in the wrong spirit so as to put the truth on hold, a lukewarm hold. A Day IS coming.
I am told elsewhere in scripture 'to be ready to give an answer to the one who asks the reason for my hope...'
May God give the increase.