Monday, November 29, 2010

Swept Away...

...things will be just as they were when Noah lived. People were eating, drinking, and getting married right up to the day that the flood came and Noah went into the big boat. They didn't know anything was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man appears. Two men will be in the same field, but only one will be taken. The other will be left. Two women will be together grinding grain, but only one will be taken. The other will be left. (Matthew 24:37-41 CEV)

Swept away... If you've ever let your eyes stray to the covers of the romance novels on sale in the grocery store, the cover art says it all.
Studly man with Greek god hair and physique to die for (either no shirt on or already unbuttoned to the waist) is holding woman in his arms with her clothing shredded like that of the eyesore women's costumes of Dancing With The Stars. She's swooning in his arms.
She's being "swept away".
Yeah, right. Until the divorce lawyers get involved.
One minute the two guys were standing on top of this peak on the east edge of the Wallowas in NE Oregon, their hang gliding chute on the ground. The next minute, their wing was aloft on the breeze and they were flying. Swept away.
Their world changed instantly, you better know!
We've often heard this passage, the first gospel text we read in the season of Advent, as a prediction or description of the end of the world. At least, talk about "End Times" to people and they'll always, always, always come up with end-of-the-world scenarios of tribulation, calamity, and blood up to the bridles of the horsemen of the Apocalypse.
That solo understanding of biblical End Times is flat out "corpus abuse" of the text. No, the man in the field who was taken, the woman grinding who was taken, were not raptured out of the evil world into heaven while the ones who were left suffered horribly.
No, the ones TAKEN were overcome by life. Their lives were completely thrown off track when life changed, when the world changed. They weren't prepared.
The ones who were left were prepared. They stayed on the job, continued to serve and get the work done in radically altered conditions.
The Noah reference informs us if we are ready to shove rapturous misinterpretations out of our minds and actually hear what Jesus has to say.
Noah and family weren't swept away. The others were. Noah and family lived in, on, with and through the worst natural disaster imaginable--and they saved God's living creatures along with them.
How? The big boat didn't fall out of the sky. They didn't pick it up at 75% off on Black Friday. It wasn't imported from China. Didn't steal it on e-Bay. They spent years building it.
They were preparing and so became prepared to serve when the whole world changed.
We live in the times between our Lord's first appearance and earthly life and our waiting and expectation of the next. We are not living daily looking for the end of the world but its New Beginning. Actually, we are already living its new beginning.
In the best of times and the worst of times, we are on the job and prepared to serve because we are prepared with Jesus' durable word that outlasts earth and sky.
And happy landings, all you hang gliders out there!
Blessed Advent!

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