Gloom or Gospel?
Brace yourself: Jesus’ words this coming Sunday sound and feel more like gloom than gospel as he warns of imminent end-times marred by “wars…earthquakes…famines.”
But…shouldn’t the gospel bring good news? Doesn’t the word literally mean good news?
Some years ago, former Bishop of Southern Ohio John Krumm preached on the paradox. He pictured an architect and a builder preparing to erect magnificent new buildings (what we’d now see as fully “green,” LEED platinum-certified). First comes demolition, clearing the site of structures overstressed or no longer usable or even safe, and removing subsurface contamination too. “The immediate result is chaos,” Krumm noted, “twisted steel beams, broken concrete, shattered window frames, ‘not one stone left upon another.’” But the architect and builder see beyond the chaos because “in the eye of their imagination, they already envision the splendid, gleaming structures that will rise out of the ruins of the old.”
Chaos is all too evident in our world now, as throughout human history—wars, earthquakes, famines, and more.
But the gloom can lift if we hear Jesus’ intent as less to depress and more to alert us. If we hear him awakening us to do our part in addressing ills that seem forever to have plagued humanity, including now an unprecedented climate crisis largely of our own making. Will we widen the eyes of our imagination? Envision creative new structures for living that can arise out of the ruin we’ve wrought?
We have our part to play as the church. We are, after all, a crew contracted to see beyond chaos—to build gospel out of gloom.
Come and join us. Even this Sunday. Help us get on with the job.
—The Rev. Canon Tom Kryder-Reid, Canon Pastor