I. They said that the world was going to end on September 23. Then it was October 15. Then October 31. Now it’s November 19. Harold Camping, a Christian radio broadcaster, was one of those who had issued multiple failed predictions of the end of the world. He said this led to some tough times. Conan O’Brien noted that friends tried to console Mr. Camping, calling and telling him, “Hey, it’s not the end of the world.”
Mr. Camping conceded that, through it all, he finally learned to walk more humbly before God: remembering that God is in charge. Never too late to learn that lesson.
II. These are tough times for many. In the face of doomsday predictions, the Christian doesn’t cross his fingers and wish for something, then wait until it happens. Since the incarnation of God in Jesus, God has come to the world once and forever. God’s coming is not a one-time “rapture.” Rather, God regularly penetrates space and time; God’s presence and participation in our histories is constant.
Christian hope, born of the Resurrection, is something other than wishful thinking. More than confidence in our future, Christian hope is confidence in God’s future. When we come to the end of our potential, what we can do, or can’t imagine any good that can come of what we’ve been dealt, hope in what’s possible for God—hope in God’s future—takes over. Christian hope doesn’t believe there’s a chance that God will intervene, but expects it, counts on it. It keeps our torches lit.
III. So, for those distressed at the state of affairs in our country and world, with crises and conflicts and clashes; with the threats of arrests and deportation and the undoing of families; and in the face of our weakened bodies and tired spirits, we do not retreat from faith and its practice, “as those who have no hope,” St. Paul says. Rather, we stride more deeply and resolutely into our life with Jesus Christ—our only hope. Consequently, our ultimate encounter with Christ will be the joyful meeting of familiar friends, longtime companions.
“Therefore,” St. Paul says today, “encourage one another with these words.”