Sermons 2006
Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23

Home | "Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18 | Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006 | "What then shall we do?", Advent 3C , 17 December 2006, Luke 3:7-18 | "Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31 | Which Jesus? Proper 29B 2006, 26 November 2006, John 18:33-37 | Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23 | "The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44 | "The Commandments to love God, Neighbor, One Another" Proper 26B, 5 November 2006, Mark 12:28-34 | "Sight -- and Seeing" Proper 25B, 29 October 2006, Mark 10:46-52 | "Baptism: Overwhelming Washing", Proper 24B, 22 October 2006 Mark 10:35-45 | "God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31 | "Divorce", Proper 22B, 8 February 2006, Mark 10: 2-9 | "Hard Sayings and Sharp Words", Proper 21B, 1 October 2006, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 | "First or Last?" Proper 20B, 24 September 2006, Mark 9:30-37 | "Unintended Consequences", Proper 19B, 17 September 2006, Mark 8:27-38 | "Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37 | "Rituals", Proper 17B, 3 September 2006, Deuteronomy 4:1-9; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | "Choices." Proper 16B, 30 August 2006, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-25; John 6:60-69 | "Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59 | "Do not be afraid." Proper 12B, 30 July 2006, Mark6:45-52 | "General Convention and Jesus' Compassion", Proper 11B, 23 July 2006, Mark 6: 30-44 | "Basics for the Journey", Proper 10B, 16 July 2006, Mark 6:7-13 | "Jesus and Rejection", Proper 9B, 9 July 2006, Mark 6:1-6 | "Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43 | "Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41 | Mighty things from Small, Proper 6B, 18 June 2006, Mark 4:26-34 | Trinity, Pentecost 1, 11 June 2006, Exodus 3:1-6; John 3:1-16 | The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23 | "That they may be one" General Convention 2006, Easter 7B 28 May 2006, John 5:9-15 | "Friends, friendship, and love" Easter 6B, 21 May 2006, John 15:9-17 | Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21 | "Interesting, this Good Shepherd!" Easter 4B, 7 May 2006, John 10:11-16 | "How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48 | "Do you believe because...." Easter 2B, 23 April 2006, John 20:19-31 | "He goes before you to Galilee...." Easter B 2006, 16 April, Mark 16:1-8 | "Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47 | "Sir, we would see Jesus!" Lent 5B, 2 April 2006, John 12:20-33 | "Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15 | "Rage, Rampage, and Outrage", Lent 3B, 19 March 2006, John 2: 13-22 | "Images of the Cross", Lent 2B, 12 March 2006, Mark 8:31-38 | "Baptism, Temptation, Redemption," Lent 1B, 5 March 2005, Mark 1:9-13 | Ash Wednesday , 1 March 2006, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | ""Nanny McPhee' and transfiguration", Epiphany Last B, Mark 9:2-9 | "Jesus, leprosy, and the law of Moses", Epiphany 6B, 12 February 2006, Mark 1:40-45 | "Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39 | "Haints, Unclean spirits, and demons" Epiphany 4B, 22 January 2006, Mark 1:21-28 | Epiphany 3B, 22 January 2006, "God's Call -- and Our Response", Mark 1:14-20 | Epiphany 2B, 15 January 2006, "Call and Response", John 1:43-51 | Epiphany 1B, 8 January 2006, "The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours", Mark 1:7-11 | The Holy Name, 1 January 2006, Luke 2: 15-21

Proper 28B 2006 Daniel 12; Mark 13:14-23

There are only two weeks left in this Church Year B. Next Sunday is Christ the King Sunday, also known as the Last Sunday after Pentecost. And the sometimes momentous calendar year 2006 ends shortly thereafter. A new Church and a new calendar year will have begun. So in a real sense we are in both a time of last things, an end time, and a new liminal time, a threshold time of new beginnings.

“There shall be a time of anguish,” God said to Daniel. But at that time your people shall be delivered.” “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” wrote the author of the letter to the Hebrews. This is a phrase too often taken by our fundamentalist brothers and sisters to mean something like “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.” “But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost,” Hebrews continues, “but among those who have faith and so are saved.”

Scary stuff. It’s apocalyptic language. The technical term for such writings is apocalypticism. It’s scattered in bits in pieces throughout most of the Bible but large doses are found in the books of Daniel in the Old Testament and in Revelations in the New. The church has had to deal with it for two millennia now.

Apocalyptic literature is concerned with the end of human history, an end described as characterized by

cosmic upheavals and final judgment. The Greek word apocalypse means “revelation” – in fact the original Greek title of Revelation is Apokalypsis Jowannis, the Apocalypse of John. Apocalyptic writing is highly symbolic and was intended to provide encouragement to the faithful during

times of trial in both Old Testament and New Testament periods.

Apocalyptic texts can also be used to reflect current issues and situations. The apocalyptic writers were successors to the prophets, who repeatedly warned of God’s judgment and the coming day of the Lord, bringing a new creation and justice for survivors of the great final cataclysm. You can hear emphasis and echoes of this in the sermons and writings of the more extreme fundamentalist evangelical Christians and their leaders – but they usually reserve the future beyond the end times only for those who subscribe to their own narrow beliefs without question.

And that’s what our lessons and gospel today are about: the end times or maybe even the end of time. Who knows the hour or the day? When one considers the wide band of unrest, uncertainty, increasing tensions from Israel to North Korea, the open warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq whose end time is not at all clear, certainly these seem to fall into the wars and rumors of war about which Jesus spoke.

And there has been a strange malaise throughout this fair land for many years. We Americans, blessed by a gracious Lord more than most, we are beset by mistrust, by litigation, by special prosecutors and congressional investigations, by the threat of foreign and home grown terrorist, and by legislative stagnation from overly partisan politics.

Almost two decades ago, the distinguished Washington Post commentator Haynes Johnson spent two years traveling around these United States to take the pulse of land and people. He was deeply disturbed.

He wrote: Nothing in my previous experience of traveling across America prepared me for the depth of feelings – the fear, the doubt, the anger, the rage I encountered everywhere. Strangest of all was a feeling of bewilderment, a troubling sense that the assurances of the old America were passing and that the uncertain new America emerging promises to be far more unsettling.”

Writing at a time of Waco, Ruby Ridge, the first World Trade Center attack, Oklahoma City, extremist movements of right and left, and so on and on and on – how much more despairing might he be today. For those who are bent on seeing the signs, the desolating sacrilege can be seen everywhere, especially where other people, not so apocalyptic by nature, disagree with them. And for many, perhaps most of us, 9-11-2001 seems the main desolating sacrilege here in our midst. But the usual ones haven’t gone away: drug addiction, alcoholism, homelessness, poverty, the beginning of an almost endless list right here – plus human slavery and worse abroad. Those of us who are older have lived through the almost half century long Cold War and its attendant fears of massive thermonuclear exchange as the veritable fires of hell on earth.

Lots of sectarians and fundamentalists of every persuasion—from the authors of the Left Behind books to the Islamic extremists—endlessly offer up scenarios for the end time. Anyone who knows anything about church history—or history in general -- is aware that the signs of the times are difficult to read and that the doomsayers of the apocalypse have been wrong from the beginning. There

have been too many false prophets and false messiahs to count. There are too many extremists who believe that only they know the truth, that only they can read the signs correctly – and some who try to tear our church apart, our country apart, the world apart.

In Time Magazine on October 6, 2006, Andrew Sullivan, commenting on the rise of fundamentalism and why embracing spiritual doubt is the key to defusing the tension between East and West, had this to say:

“There is, however, a way out [of this destructive polarization]. And it will come from the only place it can come from--the minds and souls of people of faith. It will come from the much derided moderate Muslims, tolerant Jews and humble Christians. The alternative to the secular-fundamentalist death spiral is something called spiritual humility and sincere religious doubt. Fundamentalism is not the only valid form of faith, and to say it is, is the great lie of our time.”

Perhaps some day there may be a true prophet, but until then we must simply “Stay awake!” Love God and love our neighbor. And live in the present time as if Jesus were coming today.


Note: drawn from Synthesis for Proper 28B 2006 and a sermon preached for Proper 28B 1997 and revised/updated.

Wicomico Parish Church
PO Box 70
Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579