Premillenial dispensationalism--in brief the notion that a period of destruction will proceed the coming of Christ. This notion, declared a heresy in the early church, was popularized by the Reverend John Darby in the 1830s. It's fascinating to me to read on this topic, largely because I think this desire for the "end" of all things reflects greatly on the times/places/contexts of the people who become entangled in these notions. And, the popularization of these concepts reflects greatly on who we are both as a religious and secular society. Feel free to put on the anthropology hat and read on for my oversimplified view of this all....
A view that I've been pondering since reading a Christmas card from dear friends who I love and miss o' so very much. A card which stated that they hoped we were enjoying our new friends and our new home. A card, that despite it's loveliness, made me sorrow and grieve. A card that reminded me of all that we've lost in moving a third of the way across the country--a move that really HAS been the right decision but has not been a decision made lightly and came with its own costs.
So, as one thing ends another has begun. And my take, and certainly not a take unique to myself, is that the idea of "end times" emerges when folk find the present so intolerable, that the only thing that could possibly make things better is the destruction of everything that is and the emergence of something totally new. And, as we pass into 2012, I think many folks can relate to this desire for things to be made new. New chances, new opportunities, do overs and resolutions...these are all aspects of the celebration of the new year that reflect this very human desire to have our lives and the world around us "fixed".
The difference emerges through how each of us perceive that fix to happen. Is it internal or external? The hand of God or our own hand? Is it both? For myself it's a bit of both--but not in tribulation and not in fear and destruction. Rather, through the sense that God calls us beyond ourselves to carry the promises of grace, love and mercy into the world. That we are the hands and feet of a Christ perpetually in this world--that we are the body of Christ and gifted the ability to love and do as Christ for our fellow folk. And, we do this "with God's help"...not alone.
So, where are we with the weeping and gnashing? Well, in short, change is hard. It can be frightening and painful. Church congregations changing and growing (or shrinking); family members entering or exiting; moving from the familiar to the new; new jobs, new roles, new. "I will make all things new"...scary at best, revelatory at its heart.
So, will we be made new this year? Will we embrace changes that bring us ever closer to love and hold each other close when the change seems too hard, too much or too frightening? Will we hold onto the good and the true in the midst of the need for change in the world?
|And you thought change was hard...|