… and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” (Luke 21: 25-26)
As I am writing this a series of hurricanes have laid waste to much of the Caribbean and regions of the southeast United States will be recovering for months to come. Mexico City is beginning to dig itself out of the ruble created by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. The political climate in the United States isn’t any better. We live in a time when the President and Congress seems determined to lead us into an abyss we may be years trying to crawl out of.
Sitting in Meeting for Worship last First Day it occurred to me that aside from the suffering these disasters cause they can be seen as metaphors. The message that came to me was to be still and know God in the eye of the storm. It is only at the very center of a hurricane that stillness is found and it passes all too quickly. Moments before a major earthquake wildlife often become silent. Amid the trouble around us we can find strength in the Center, enough to carry on and move forward when the storm has passed.
Some of my family members like to use the expression End Times when talking about current events. I find that troubling for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the tendency to disengage from trying to make the world a better place. It is tempting to give up and let Jesus sort it all out at the Second Coming; but I can’t resign myself to follow a capricious God that only allows a select few to ascend at the end of days. I would rather think of these troubled times as a new beginning rather than an end. There will be pain and suffering ahead, but also new opportunities to get it right. Maybe something better will arise from having survived these storms.
Quaker theology emphasizes that we are responsible to create the kind of world God wants for us. Heaven unfolds here on Earth as we remain open to the Light. The role of the prophets was not to predict some end time; it is to warn people of their failings and show that there is a better way. Scripture warns us not to follow false prophets that declare themselves at the front of the line in a future rapture (Matthew 25:13). This desire to separate from the world’s problems is understandable but a dangerous practice. Going to the Sacred Center helps us see our Call to service more clearly and gives us the strength to carry on after the storm.