A Sermon on Mark 13.1-8, 24-37
We need to talk about the apocalypse.
I mean the word...
We need to talk about the word "apocalypse"
because between movies and TV shows and survival magazines, and "Dooms Day Prep-ers,"
somehow we've turned the word "Apocalypse" into something it's not.
Let me tell you a story that might make you cringe a little...
When I was in about 6th grade, we had this really charismatic Sunday School teacher.
He was really interested in books like the Left Behind Series,
and it was his mission to teach our Sunday School class about, what he called, the apocalypse.
Now, having never read the book series myself,
but having read most (if not all) of the apocalyptic literature in the Bibles,
I can only assume that the apocalypse he was talking about
was one that was patch-worked together from different places in the Bible,
with some other stuff thrown in there to give it flavor.
So what did this look like in the Sunday School classroom?
It looked like 8 twelve year olds practicing "End of the Word Drills."
Does that make you cringe?
When this teacher said, "Go"
we would have to put both of our arms in the air so that the angel could grab us by the wrists
and carry us to heaven, in order to save us from what he called, "the apocalypse."
Where everyone left on earth would die a terrible death.
He didn't teach Sunday School very long once the pastor found out about this.
But this is what we've done with the word "Apocalypse."
It's been turned into the multi-billion dollar movie and TV plot involving zombies and monsters and bombs.
It's created an entire industry of living in fear.
Now I'm not going to stand up here and claim to know everything about the word apocalypse,
or even that I fully understand the word,
but what I can do is pint you to where the word comes from.
The word apocalypse comes from the Greek word ἀποκάλυψις.
And when you translate it literally, it just means
a disclosure of knowledge,
a lifting of the veil,
And this is where it's meaning tends to morph.
The kind of revealing of knowledge that is often considered apocalyptic
is usually knowledge that is going to somehow alter reality,
or alter the world.
So in a way, the world as we know it ends.
But it ends in a way that creates room for something new.
it's typically making room for an expression of God's promise to God's people.
That God works through whatever means necessary to show that we're loved.
My fear is that when we hear the word "apocalypse," and immediately think of
the end of the world, and something violent and awful,
that we don't make room in our hearts and in our minds for the possibility
that after the old passes away, there might be something new and good.
I'm not saying this is easy to do
because the first thing that fills my heart and mind with panic,
and makes my skin crawl,
is the idea of something new where I don't know what to expect.
blood pressure-raising fear.
I'm not even going to tell you not to be afraid when things end.
I'm not going to tell you not to be afraid when new things begin.
Because I know that's not real.
That's not how it works.
Fear, like all other emotions, was created by God.
It shouldn't be seen as ultimately a bad thing.
Fear leads us to react to threats in ways that can save our lives.
It's natural and there for a reason.
Jesus had finished telling the disciples that the temple would fall.
That no stone would be left on top of another.
That it all would be thrown down.
Peter, James, John, and Andrew ask Jesus about this.
Tell us when this is going to happen!
Tell us what the signs will be!
Tell us what to expect!
They're scared that something they don't understand is about to happen
that will change their reality forever.
I think that makes perfect sense.
I'd be scared.
Of course you would!
Because even if by some really small chance your life isn't completely 100% perfect,
you tend to know what to expect when you wake up in the morning.
An apocalypse is scary because it tells us that,
that won't be the case in the future.
An apocalypse tells us that change is going to happen,
and even though that change might be explained,
like the fact that Jesus told the disciples what was going to happen,
often times it only creates more questions.
So I'm not going to tell you not to be scared of the new,
of new realities,
but what I am going to tell you is this:
much like it was with the disciples,
your fear is not going to stop new things from happening.
The problem with fear is not the fear part...
I've already said,
fear is of God, and shouldn't be looked at as something ultimately bad.
The problem with fear is what is causes us to do.
We tend to grasp at straws of stability to maintain something that looks like control.
We grasp at money, objects, and success because if we control it,
it can't control us.
But isn't that just another instance of hiding from the inevitable change in the future?
Things in our lives change.
Things in the world change.
I'm 25 years old,
so many of you have seen a lot more change than I have.
We have something in common through,
we're still here.
Our mistake and miscommunication come when we expect Jesus to promise stability and comfort.
When we want to spread the Good News to the world,
yet we want the world to stay the same
for the sake of our comfort.
Because it's "the way it's always been done."
What I'm telling you is
if you're scared
that means change is happening.
The news of Jesus' apocalypse,
the unveiling of a new truth is upon us
as we journey to the cross this Lenten season.
To really listen to it,
and to let the message change you,
this kind of change can mean that room is being made so that God can reveal God's promise to the world.
We don't need "End of the World Drills"...
We need open hearts for the good news of Jesus' apocalypse.