Thursday, December 10 —by Sarah Jones

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be? You must live holy and godly lives, waiting for and hastening the coming day of God. Because of that day, the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will melt away in the flames. But according to his promise we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. 
(2 Peter 3:11-13)

It’s not about win or lose
We all lose when they feed on the 
Souls of the innocent
Blood drenched pavement
Keep on moving though the waters stay raging
In this maze you can lose your way 
It might drive you crazy
But don’t let it faze you no way 
(Matisyahu, “One Day”)

The first classes I took in Biblical Studies were taught by scholar of Apocalyptic Literature, Dr. Tina Pippin.  Tina taught her students that the apocalypse wasn’t a far-off, abstract idea, but something very real that happens quite regularly. The end of the world, and the beginning of a new one, is an experience all of us have, so we should think about how we prepare for it and meet it.

I think many of us would describe 2020 as an apocalyptic year — it feels like the world is ending.  We have seen a resurgence of tyranny as armed “militias” and elected officials try to reestablish the supremacy of Whiteness.  We have witnessed police officers deal death and destruction in cities all across the nation, and their absolute refusal to take responsibility for violence and harm they have wrought. We have watched as food lines stretch for miles while Amazon sets new profit records.  We have lost friends and family members as the novel Coronavirus spreads uncontrollably and unnecessarily throughout the country.  It’s not hard to see evidence that the four horsemen are riding in 2020.

The word “apocalypse” comes from the Greek ἀποκάλυψις (apokalypsis), which means “to uncover” or “to reveal.” This year has been revelatory, and not just of the evil that exists in the world. After George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s murder, we saw Black Lives Matter demonstrations not only in big cities like Chicago, but in small rural communities like Holland, AR and Paducah, KY. The movement is larger than we thought. Twelve months ago, abolition seemed like a “fringe” idea, but now cities are reallocating money away from their police force and figuring out alternative responses to crises. Defunding the police is an achievable goal. In response to the inability of our government to respond to the pandemic, mutual aid programs have sprung up and flourished. Communities can (and will) take care of each other. The end of the world uncovers the depths of human capacity to love, and the breadth of power to fight back.

Peter asks what kind of people we will be when faced with an apocalypse, what it will reveal in us. The arrival of the Christ Child is a reminder that God’s love is incarnate in human hearts, that God’s mercy and justice are wrought by human hands. Our hearts. Our hands. I have been heartened in the past months in seeing the work of ordinary folks building a new earth founded on righteousness and the promise of Jesus’s arrival. The temptation to cower and insulate under a barrage of bad news is real, but we must hold on to and act on the Good News — liberation is coming; healing is coming; justice is coming. An end of the world is here, so what sort of people shall we be?

Everlasting God, help us to hold onto your promise of redemption. Give us visions that will coax us out of comfort. Give us passion to meet “impossible” challenges head-on. Open our hearts so that we may be guided by empathy. Open our ears to your wisdom and guidance so that we may be a holy people, co-creators of a new earth.