Word's been floating around that the world may end on Saturday. While predictions like this have happened time and again, this time I’d like to indulge the idea of the world ending, just for a few minutes, and consider what our world looks like right now.
It is the lesson for many who have lost loved ones tragically, especially this week — for those who have been reminded that life does not last forever, that death is as much a reality as birth. And so, whether we listen to the numerologists who count the days until Armageddon or to the storms hurtling toward us and the daily violations of justice, it is healthy to remember that our days are, indeed, counted.
Maybe it’s a good time to pay attention to what the earth is telling us, to the earthquakes and erupting volcano and the hurricanes that are destroying cities and taking lives.
Maybe it’s a good time to witness to massacres and hate crimes, to examine what side of justice we stand on, and who, or what, we are resisting.
Maybe it’s a good time to tell our kids we love them, to ask our neighbors what their names are, to buy someone a bouquet of flowers, to say a prayer or two.
Maybe it’s a good time to finish that book, or re-start a favorite one, and connect with a friend.
When the end of the world looms, and we realize that our days might be limited, our whole perspective changes, doesn’t it?
In the Southern Baptist tradition in which I grew up, we were constantly pointed toward eternity. This meant that what happened daily only mattered if we were doing the righteous things, making the right choices, following the right rules. Eternity was either the punishment or the reward, and Jesus was only in our present lives to usher us into salvation on the other side.
But that leaves a gaping hole in the humanity of our daily interactions. If our legacy is an eternal one, it’s also one that will last later today and tomorrow, for the people we spend our time with, for this nation and this created world.
So if the world ends on Saturday, what we do today and tomorrow matters, simply because we are alive today and tomorrow, and we have ourselves and others to care for.
That means it matters how we treat immigrants today. It matters that our enemies know we stand for shalom. It matters that nonviolent resistance is our work, and that storytelling keeps us tethered to one another and to the mystery of Christ.
And so, in all these interpretations of the world ending, if we are anything, let us be present — present to those around us, present to both the joy and grief offered up by this world, present to the reality that we live in a reality that is Kingdom come, but also coming.
The whole world won’t end Saturday. But if it did, I’d like it to end with a people who are united in compassionate shalom and steadied by the grace of Christ, a leader who cares for everything and everyone, from birth to death and beyond, no matter how many days are in between.