November 22, 2015
When Dottie called me last August to ask me to preach, I picked November 22. I assumed that the lectionaries, and thus my topic, would have something to do with Thanksgiving; so I was surprised, and to tell the truth a little dismayed to find that, since our lectionary scriptures follow the liturgical year, this Sunday, November 22, marks the end of the year and the end of time. Apocalypse now!
The dramatic and obscure biblical images about End Times have split the church since the beginning, and some of us think it’s a subject to be avoided. But given the fearful events of the last few weeks, in Paris, Beirut, Somalia, Mali, and elsewhere and the rumors of impending even worse events, I think it’s as good a time as any to face our fears. Violent fantasies—of holy destruction, the Last Battle, Armageddon, and so on—appeal not only to the ignorant and the destitute but, at some primitive level, probably to everybody. Just this last Tuesday on the front page of the Washington Post there was a headline question: “The Islamic State Strategy: Luring the ‘Unbelievers’ into an Apocalyptic Battle?”