December 10, 2010
Some who read this will remember a time during the Cold War when, convinced of the planet's impending annihilation, protesters carried signs and street preachers warned, "The End is Near". Like Roy Delgado's cartoon: Bedraggled long hair and beard, sackcloth robes, bare feet, either carrying a picket sign or wearing a sandwich board.
Political cartoons have so much to say. They encapsulate the essence of a position, a message, or an argument for or against. They comment, sometimes bitingly, sometimes gently, from the pages of our newspapers or, now, on countless websites. Many have suffered at the heavy hands of their governments over the centuries. Goya, Daumier, and Picasso are but three who come to mind that could not publish or show some of their political art for fear of retribution.
Peter, Paul, and others who lived and worked in the Christian community in the first century were apostles; first -generation people who had had a personal experience of Jesus in their lifetime. Their belief in a reordered new world disturbed the Roman authorities. Their message was concise, and alarming.
Let's center with some deep breathing, and allow ourselves to come to prayer and stillness.
Prayer: "Divine Love, You are the bringer of peace. Show me how to wait for your coming. Amen."
2 Peter 3:11-18 (New International Version, ©2010)
" 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.[a] That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. "
In addition to the funny little cartoon character, you can probably imagine the bumper sticker that was prevalent around Y2K (remember *that* fiasco?) which read: "Jesus is coming! Look busy!"
Peter isn't urging people to do that. Notice how he says "strive to be found by him at peace". He is asking Christians to set aside the anxiety they may have at the radical change Christ brings to Creation, and be at peace with God and with one another. Counting on God is the only way to achieve this peace, knowing surely that God is in charge of the when, the how, and wherefores. To borrow yet another piece of popular imagery, think about the "I love logistics" ad on TV right now.
It's safe to give thanks, to be in right relationship and at peace with God. We can have the patience Peter encouraged. He may have been a fanatic street preacher with a scraggly beard, but he got this part right.
Prayer: "O holy God, I dream of being at peace with you. Help me to lay down everything I am carrying with me that keeps me from a righteous relationship today. I want to be free to know you. Amen."
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