St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church

Vancouver, B.C.

Phone: 604-877-1789

E-mail: office@stmarymags.ca

Office hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10:30 am - 1 pm

The Anglican Parish of St. Mary Magdalene

2950 Laurel Street at West 14th Avenue

Vancouver, BC, V5Z  3T3

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Worship Times

Sunday Eucharist

10:30 am


Contemplative

Eucharist

Wednesday 7:00 pm


Diocese of New Westminster Anglican Church of Canada

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December 1st Advent 4,   2019   John Marsh


Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44



Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the
Lord,
   to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways”…
   and…they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
   and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
   neither shall they learn war any more.                                                                                                                         (Isaiah 2:3a; 4b)


The hope lingers still – does it not?


Prophetic hope lures, lingering within our hearts, stirring up dreams; truth to tell, we all dream…


And within dreams, longings are stirred, creating expectations and, when faithfully understood, these expectations express themselves as our work…


And within the work, we use the gifts we know of and sometimes - more often than we suppose - we discover others…


Here within the sharing of ourselves, we discover next steps – a way forward – occasionally a way out of no way – unexpected but welcome…


Ways to make a difference for the world – ways to actualize hope, as incomplete as they must be¹…


Eschatology, the doctrine of last things – if it is faithful to Jesus - steps forward as embodied hope…


A truly Christian eschatology is always hopeful…


As Jürgen Moltmann says,


‘In its eyes the world is full of all kinds of possibilities, namely all the possibilities of the God of hope.’


However,


When the dynamic of hope dissolves and disappears…


When the fluidity of faith freezes, it seems that the possibilities of revelation are locked into the basest of human responses and the destructive violence of immature visions becomes seemingly inevitable…


When the flexibility of response stiffens, it seems that we are channelled into an ever more dangerous condition where apocalyptic vision becomes an abomination, an abomination embraced as salvation by those who are breathing but a little²…


When the possibilities of creative chaos diminish, its remnants harden into certainties of violence, into the closed loop of destructive excess…


Here eschatology collapses into a totalizing apocalypse in which none survive unscathed…


So why do we become fixated on ‘the end’ as violent dissolution?


Why are we so obsessed with apocalyptic absolutism and its lurid descriptions?


Perhaps it seems to be the only alternative to unfettered, naive secularism with its belief in linear progress - I mean, let’s be honest, the last century hardly allows us to wax blindly eloquent about the ‘progressive’ promise of techno-scientific methods after its participation in so many Armageddon’s…


Perhaps we need a language to express both our hope and horror…


Maybe we can embrace a third way between macabre apocalyptic literalization and the naïve fantasies secular anti-apocalypticism. A counter-apocalyptic which revives and retains the original sense of revelation, of the unveiling of Jesus’ wisdom (not to speak of our own).³


Perhaps we can restore and retain the original eschatological sense of ‘end’ as ‘purpose’ and not as ‘termination’…


Maybe we can hear something of Jesus’ wisdom and call to understand the ‘end times’ as a lure for our collective transformation, a lure for us to participate in basileic or communal becoming…


Perhaps, while announcing ‘the last days’ of the status quo, we can become ever more human while participating in a ‘mission’ to the ends of the earth…


Maybe, despite our participation in past horrors, we can participate in a mission to the ends of the earth without necessitating or validating the last days of creation…


Perhaps we can become missionaries of ‘the surprise’, those alternative visions which embody


unexpected, chaotic possibility:


of the beating of swords into ploughshares…  


of forgiveness and reconciliation…


of the old nursing the new shoot…


of a voice crying in the wilderness…


of once in royal David’s city…


And so, perhaps we can proclaim:


It's the end of the world as we know it,

It's the end of the world as we know it,

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.



 ¹ Ways to actualize hope are inherently incomplete never achieving a state of completion which would necessitate a period, the period signifying completion, achievement. In matters of hope, the period signifies the end of hope and the construction of other things masquerading as hopes fulfillment. Hope lures, inviting next steps, steps followed by steps seeking to more fully embody, express hopes lure…

 ² A reference to a line of poetry in Mary Oliver’s poem, Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?.

 ³ The term counter-apocalyptic is from the work of Catherine Keller is developed in her books, On the Mystery: Discerning Divinity in Process and more substantially in Apocalypse Then and Now: A Feminist Guide to the End of the World. I am indebted to her thinking.

From the song It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I feel fine) by the band REM.

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