Jerry had a bad week. There was some trouble at work, his car broke down on the highway costing him over a thousand dollars, and he had been worried about some tests at the doctor. But then things settled down for Jerry. The situation at work was resolved, the car was fixed, and the doctor said take some pills for a while and everything will be all right. It was now Sunday afternoon, and Jerry was going to relax in front of the television and watch the Vikings game. No sooner had he sat down and Jerry heard his wife’s frantic call from the basement– “Come quick. Something is leaking and there is a foot of water down here.”
Interruptions– don’t you just love them? Actually, we kid ourselves if we expect that life will be made up of anything but interruptions. “What is life?” pondered Mark Twain philosophically, before giving this profound definition: “Life is just one darn thing after another.”
But isn’t that what keeps life interesting? After all, what is it that makes a good story, a good book, or a good movie? They all follow a similar format. Things start out normal and pleasant, and then BOOM, something happens to interrupt the peace. There is an accident or a conflict or a storm or some other ‘darn thing,’ and then for the rest of the story, the main characters are trying to pick up the pieces and put their lives back together again. For example, consider the classic movie The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy’s normal, bland life on a lonely little farm in Kansas is interrupted by tornado, and Dorothy is carried off to a faraway magical land, filled with all kinds of dangers and interesting people. For the rest of the movie she has many exciting adventures as she tries everything to get back to her boring life in Kansas. So think about it: would five generations of people have enjoyed that movie if all it consisted of was three hours Dorothy riding her bike back and forth to school and then doing her evening chores at home on the farm in Kansas? Of course not. The interruptions are indeed what makes movies, and life, interesting; not always pleasant, but interesting.
The 2009 movie 2012 is about the biggest interruption of all– the end of the world. The movie is great on special effects, but doesn’t have much else going for it. The premise of the movie is that an ancient Mayan calendar predicted the world would end on December 21, 2012. According to the movie’s marketing department and the History Channel, several other ancient prophecies pointed to the same date; so, we all should have been very worried. According to the real experts on these things, not even the Mayan calendar really says this; and even if it did, so what? What did they know about it? Anyway, there are about 6 billion people killed off in this movie (which is even more than in the average Arnold Schwarzenegger movie), so the movie is about a very big interruption.
I don’t think the Mayans knew anymore about the date of the end of the world than I do. I am not even interested in Christian attempts at using the Bible to figure out the precise timing of the end. But that this world will end is a scientific fact, and it is a clear Biblical doctrine. The Bible, in fact, talks a great deal about the end of the world. It says that the world will end when Christ returns.
Today is the first Sunday in Advent, that season of the Church year when we prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ as a baby in the manger in Bethlehem. But Advent always begins with the reminder that Christ will come again, and then the world as we know it will end. When Christ came to earth the first time, he came in obscurity and only a handful of people knew about it. But when Christ comes the second time, the whole world will know. When Jesus came as a baby, many did not recognize him; but when he comes again, all will recognize and know him, both the good and the evil, both those who have believed in Him and those who have not believed. When Jesus was here the first time, he allowed himself to be judged, but when he comes again, he will be the judge, — and we are often told in God’s Word to make sure we are prepared for that judgment.
The problem with the movie 2012 is that it is all special effects and not much of a story. Though the Bible’s account of the end of the world is short on details and comes with no special effects at all, it does something far more important. The Bible places the world’s end in the context of a great story, the story of how all of God’s promises will be fulfilled, how Christ the Savior will return, and of how all those who died believing in him will rise from the dead to live with the Lord in heaven.
The end of the world in the Bible is not by any means the end of the story. It is, in fact, only the beginning of an even greater, more wonderful story.
Mark 13:8a…24-26 — (Jesus said), “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines…”But in those days, following that distress, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”
Mark 13:37 — (Jesus said), “What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
Philippians 2:9-11 — Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
O Lord, support us all the day long of this troubled life, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed; and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, Lord, in thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
–Book of Common Prayer