As we enter the time when we are reading Apocalyptic passages from the lectionary, I am tempted to stop up my ears and refuse to listen. The descriptions of End Times fall on that place in me where, ever since the beginning of the Pandemic and the acceleration of climate change, I have been anxious and heartbroken. I don’t want to hear it.
Yet, in the moment after I’ve squeezed my eyes shut and put my fingers in my ears, my unquiet heart draws me back into the passages, and I find myself paying too much attention, reading too much into them. I begin to see disaster in the making all around me and I worry about being caught in a cataclysmic horror show.
I have to take a deep breath and listen with the ear of my heart to what Christ might be saying to me in the midst of all that is going on in my life and the life of the world. I have to get out of the alarmed, reactive part of myself. I have to turn away from the news and the jabber of the world talking to itself and shut down my overactive mind.
So I take a walk. I take a walk, and I notice how blustery and windy it has gotten while I have been huddling inside the house. My ears are cold; so is the tip of my nose. It is cloudy, but soon the sun breaks through, and bronze leaves swirl and leap in the street. I notice little patches of foliage still erupting green into the afternoon light.
With the ear of my heart I hear, “It will be okay.” Just that. I walk on through the afternoon and feel myself getting quieter, more centered.
And then the words of today’s passage from Hebrews come into my mind: “ . . . and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith . . . for he who has promised is faithful.”
He who has promised is faithful.
What has Christ promised us? With the ear of my heart I hear the discourse from the Gospel of John. I hear that we are in him as he is in God. He is the vine and we are the branches. He has gone to prepare a place for us, and we belong to him always, even to the end of time. It will be okay.
Reading the end time passages, dualistic thinking had me parsing out who is good and who is bad, with God as a children’s Santa Claus with a list of naughty and nice behaviors. But the Book of Hebrews assures us that Christ has washed away all of that baloney in us. Christ washes away that judgmental mind that humans use for tormenting one another. Christ washes away all the ways we fall short. Every single one of us has a new and living way into the Temple — into belonging completely — through the curtain of Christ’s flesh. Through Christ’s incarnation itself we are made to see that we are beloved, precious, and, above all, indispensable.
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