For centuries, people have been trying to predict the end of the world. An earthquake here, a war there, a certain alignment of stars or unfolding of events have all been cited as evidence that the end is near. The predicted dates and years of the end have come and gone and we are still here. The Church teaches that all time since the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus is the end time as we await the promised return of Jesus in glory. Rather than trying to predict when he will return, Jesus counsels us in the Gospel to persevere every day with the confidence that our lives are secure (Luke 21:5-19).
All of this means that our lives in the present moment are precious. Yes, who among us does not look forward to the wonder and joy of eternal life with the Lord? At the same time, eternal life is not an end in itself. All life given to us by God is important. Heaven and eternal life are the completion of life in God that begins with our lives now. It is only in this world that we first meet God.
In looking forward to the fullness of eternal life in heaven, it is tempting to approach our lives here as drudgery that we just have to put up with until we get to the real deal in heaven. We are not to just endure our lives. Every day is an opportunity to bring goodness to the world, the place where we first meet God. Our motivation for coming to the Lord is not because he promises us an eternal life that is so much better than this life. Rather, we are to come to the Lord because we love him and each other so much that we eagerly bring his love to the world now and look forward to the fulfillment of that love in eternity.
A priest once said, “Life with God after death is dependent on life with God after birth.” We carry the promise of eternal life within us during these end times. As we continue on our journey of faith, may we not lose sight of the now time which is where life with God begins.
Together in faith,
The Very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector