This Sunday is the one before Rememberance Day. While trying to make sense of readings that talk about the end of the world, we stop and remember the wars that mar our history and the people who fought because they felt they were called to defend the world from evil.
It is all too easy to look back and apply the complexity of Afghanistan and Iraq to the World Wars; to let our desire for peace outweigh our need to remember and thank those who served. The sad fact is that there was barely a pause after the "War to end all wars". We human beings, poor foolish mortals that we are, seem destined to claw and tear at ourselves while we justify ourselves with the rhetoric of necessity.
The people of Israel had been carried away into captivity, but now they were back. They were a pitiful remnant of themselves, trying to rebuild a temple for God, while their own people mocked their efforts. They were the defeated, the losers. They had been sent home, not in victory, but in pity. Where was God?
God saves that she is there, waiting. God doesn't demand victory, power, glory, but rather humility, patience, trust.
The other readings talk about the end of the world or life after death, but they too suggest that God's priorities are not ours. The end won't be anything like we expect it to be
I received a pamphlet from a group prophecying a great new revival of the church. This would be a church that would get it right this time, that really would follow God's will. I found it a little sad that they were able to brush off the efforts of all who've gone before. But they are living in the hope of God's pouring out of his Spirit. I imagine that they feel a great deal like the Israelites struggling to build a temple that they knew would be nothing like the old temple of their glory days.
On Remembranc Day we need to balance ourselves between our memory of the wounds of the past, and yes, the imagined glory of our victory in the World Wars, and the hope of a peace that will extend past the bounds of nationality to take in the entire world.