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The Scriptures for this Sunday, July 19, 2020 are
Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Have you had enough of this ?
Are you ready for it to be OVER ?
(You can fill in the blank— whatever “this” is— but I bet I have an inkling of an idea, what you may be thinking of….)
Join the club ! — a club that includes St. Paul and Jesus Christ and all the great prophets and heroes of the Bible. They often talked about The End. They used a variety of different expressions when they referred to it, but they kept coming back to this subject.
This week, we have four examples of Bible characters looking forward to The End.
Here’s St. Paul, writing to people in Rome around 1,970 years ago: I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18) You see that Paul and his ancient audience had their fill of troubles, but Paul was trying to draw the Romans’ attention to what God held in store for all of them after The End. In his earliest letters, such as 1 Thessalonians, Paul expressed a belief that Christ would return very soon, and God would cut short the troubles that Christians were facing before that generation of believers had (literally) died out. But by the time he wrote the letter called “Romans,” he had stopped trying to predict how soon The End would come. Nevertheless, Paul was still sure that The End would be good for people who live as children of God.
Here’s Jacob (“the Grasper”), fleeing from his brother toward a place he’d never been before— a trip he made more than 3,500 years ago: “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God….” (Genesis 28: 20-21) Jacob had taken part in a big ol’ mess of a soap opera in Canaan land, plotting with his mother to cheat his brother Esau and fool his elderly father Isaac. But in this moment, Jacob expressed faith that God could bring his tangled web of a story to The End with some sort of a “happily ever after.” At least at that moment recorded in verses 20-22, Jacob “the Grasper” envisioned that it would be God Who would pull his loose ends together.
In our gospel lesson this week, Jesus tells the crowd another parable about seeds sown in a field, but in this story, an evildoer puts weed seeds out there where the good seeds are trying to grow. Later, when his disciples asked him what the story meant, Jesus told them that “the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. … Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matthew 13:39-40, 43) For over 1,800 years, Bible readers have been trying to understand exactly what Jesus meant by that expression, “the end of the age.” The English language borrows from the Greek the actual word Jesus used— “aeon” – but it’s not a precise word, it’s a vague word. So Jesus doesn’t give us a calendar date or a clock time, but he does give us this: those of us who stick with God’s side will be doing just fine after The End.
Perhaps our psalm for this week gives us the sweetest and the most relatable vision of The End:
Trying to imagine all of God’s information and wisdom and all God’s plans, the psalmist gives up and says,
“I come to the end — I am still with You.”