But actually, Pastor Ryan did something interesting. He turned the notion of the Apocalypse on its head, for me at least.
Did you know that the word apocalypse comes from the Greek word literally meaning "to uncover?" As in revelation, insight, enlightenment. And this definition, on the first Sunday of Advent, is relevant indeed.
After all, the Advent season is literally about uncovering Jesus, celebrating and seeing his presence everywhere and carrying that revelation through the rest of the year.
The reading yesterday was from Luke 17:20, a passage commonly referred to as the rapture:
Some of the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the kingdom of God come?” Jesus answered, “God’s kingdom is coming, but not in a way that you will be able to see with your eyes. People will not say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ because God’s kingdom is within you.”
I tell you, on that night two people will be sleeping in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. There will be two women grinding grain together; one will be taken, and the other will be left.
I don’t know about you, but those last two sentences have always scared the bahooey out of me. So, you’re telling I’m going to be shuffling down the street one day with a friend, or standing in line for a Starbucks mocha, and suddenly Jesus is going to shoot down, grab the person next to me to shuttle her off to Heaven, and I’m going to be left standing alone, bewildered and out of luck? I’m going to be left behind? Yeah, not a day I’m looking forward to.
In the past, I’ve always read this passage and assumed the word “taken” means “chosen.” As in, God is going to choose one over another; choose one and leave another behind. Choose someone else over me. But does it really mean that?
A closer look at the preceding lines leads me to believe that perhaps what we think we see isn’t actually what we see at all. As Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is coming, but not in a way that you will be able to see with your eyes.”
And why can’t we see it? Because God’s kingdom is within all of us.
Not just in the midst of destruction, chaos and calamity; not necessarily in the dramatic moments we can witness with our eyes, like a rapturous choosing; not necessarily in the most likely place we expect it, but within us, in our hearts and souls – perhaps the place we least expect to find it.
So I guess it’s fair to say that I experienced my own apocalypse yesterday. It wasn’t in earthquakes, floods or battle but in the original Greek sense of the word. I was enlightened. The truth was uncovered: I heard that God’s kingdom is within me, the place I least expected indeed.
This post is part of an ongoing series entitled Advent: Giving Presence. Click here to read other posts in the series.