Project Description

Daniel 12:1-3 / Hebrews 10:11-14, 18 / Mark 13:24-32

I can remember when I was a
little boy growing up in Harlan County—
on US 119—
that mostly two-laned curvy road
between Harlan and Pineville—
we would pass a cross.

The Cross was firmly planted in the ground
on the side of the road.

It was made of concrete.

I know everything looks bigger when you’re a kid—
but I bet this concrete Cross was 10 feet tall.

It was substantial.

And carved out into the concrete—
on the horizontal arm of the Cross—
painted in big black letters—
were the words:
“The End is Near”.

I looked at that Cross every time
we were traveling on that road.

And I can remember, as a young boy,
a couple of emotions would
surface when we passed that Cross

First, I would feel a little dread.

I just wasn’t ready for Jesus to come back yet.

It wasn’t that I was scared
I was going to go to hell.

Surely, as a young boy I hadn’t done anything evil
enough for me to be sent to hell.

Plus, in the 4th grade—
I had been baptized—
I had taken Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior—
From the Protestant perspective, I was saved.

I didn’t want Jesus to come back yet
because I had dreams—I had big dreams.

I didn’t want Jesus to come and
mess up my plans.

I would pray:
“Lord, can you hold off a little bit on coming—
I’ve really got some important things I
want to do before you come back.”

I can see God laughing at my
somewhat selfish but sincere prayer.

But the predominant emotion that
this “The End is Near” concrete Cross
brought out in me was “fear.”

Again, not fear of judgement—
but fear of the unknown.

The Biblical language describing “the end”
is frightening.

We heard it today in the
Book of Daniel and the Gospel of Mark

At “the end” there will be wars and earthquakes—
there will be people running for their lives—
there will be people rising up from the dust—
the sun and the moon will be darkened—
and stars falling from the sky.

It will be a cosmic cataclysm—
and then the Son of Man comes
riding on a cloud
with an army of angels and archangels.

Scary!!!

The interesting and paradoxical thing about
this apocalyptic language describing the “the end”
is that—for the believer—
it should produce confidence—
not fear.

It should generate hope—
not despair.

“Look,” Jesus says as he stands with
his little group of disciples
overlooking the city of Jerusalem—
“Look, the transition from this world to
the fulfillment of the reign of God will not happen
without a fight—
a fight to the death.”

This is one of the reasons that the Christian
Gospel makes so much sense—
it’s real—it doesn’t hide its head in the sand.

It takes into full account the sadness and
brokenness in the world.

It takes into full account the
wickedness and evil that exists in the world.

It takes into full account the
suffering and distress in a
world falling away from God.

True, there is much goodness and grace and
beauty in the world—
but there are other forces at work too.

That’s why there’s so much military imagery
in both the Old and the New Testaments.

“The ruler of this world” as Jesus called
Satan in the Gospel of John—
will not go down without a battle.

The battle is real—
but victory is assured—
Jesus wins—
Love wins.
For the believer who tries to do the will of God—
when thinking about “the end”—
brings about confidence and hope!!!

You know, on the other side of
that substantial concrete “The End is Near” Cross—
carved out and painted with the
same black paint are the words:
“Jesus saves.”

“The end is near” on one side—
“Jesus saves” on the other.

Confidence and hope.

So, we have great confidence and hope that
Jesus will set all things right!!!

But that does not mean—
that does not mean—
that we can all just sit back and
enjoy until He comes again.

That does not mean
that we put our feet up and
ignore the predicament of humanity because
in the end God is going to
come in a cloud and clean everything up.

There is not one word in
Scripture nor in Tradition
that says we just sit on our tails—
and relax—
and wait.

What this apocalyptic language tells us—
is that time is short—
we don’t know when the end come.

Whether it’s Jesus coming again—
or we die—
there will be an end.

The battle is God’s to win—
but God wants us in the action too.
There is much left to be done—
the fullness of the reign of God
does not come easy.

You know, when I think about “the end”—
when I think about either my death—
or the Second Coming—
I find it an astonishing thought that
I’ll be judged at all.

Who am I anyway in the picture of things.

I’m 1 of 7.7 billion people on the planet!!!

I’m 1 of about 110 billion “modern” Homo sapiens
who have ever existed!!!

It’s astonishing that the God of the universe
would be concerned enough to judge insignificant me.

It’s amazing that I even matter enough—
or that my actions matter
to the God of the universe.

But Oh, what dignity God gives us—
Oh, what meaning God gives to our lives.

I matter—you matter!!!

What I do matters—what you do matters!!!

Especially—especially when it comes to
our actions dealing with the poor—
God’s very special ones.

The coming of the Lord gives great impirtance
to all of our acts.

Every act of love and mercy adds to
the cosmos love and mercy that
it would not otherwise have.

And a knowing that God will fit it all
into His great purpose—His plan.

One of my friends had been assigned
to a parish in the Chicago suburbs—
8100 families—
and a huge school.

During his tenure the parish and the school
experienced tremendous growth—
but after 12 years the Bishop thought
it was time for this priest to move on.

And in his going away speech, my friend said this:
“Some priests want to leave their mark on
the parish they’re assigned to.

But not me—
Not me—
I don’t want to leave my mark on the parish—
I want to leave Jesus’ mark on the parish.”

Isn’t that what we’re all supposed to do—
Until we die—
Or until Our Lord comes again.

Leave Jesus’ mark wherever we go—
Leave Jesus’ mark on whoever we meet.

What dignity God gives us!!!
Who we are and what we do matters!!!

You know, when I got a little older—
when I was in high school—
or when I was coming back home from college—
that Concrete “End is Near” Cross
faded from my consciousness.

I’m sure it was still strongly planted
beside US 119 between Harlan and Pineville.

But I had other things to think about—
none of that religious mumbo-jumbo.

That’s so easy to let happen isn’t it.

How wrong I was.

For the believer who tries to do the will of God—
thinking about the end brings about
a confidence—
a hope.

A recognition of our dignity—
Who we are and what we do matters!!!
Dignity—
What I do matters.

As long as God keeps me here—
Or until He comes again—
I’ve still got big dreams—
actually, even bigger dreams than I had as a young boy.

Dreams of leaving Jesus’ mark on wherever I go—
leaving Jesus’ mark on whomever I see.

“The end is near”—
“Jesus saves.”

Holy Spirit 11/117-18/2018