Matthew 24:29-31

“Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:29-31

I’m at a loss with what to do with this passage. The poetry is powerful. The images are indelible. This passage needs to be painted. It needs to become a symphony performed by the finest orchestras in the world. We need to see, hear, and feel it. But the temptation is to explain it and then it loses something significant.

I read this passage and I see the world as we know it, the universe as we imagine it, coming apart from the seams. Coming apart, not in destruction, but in bursting forth with new creation.

This passage, in fact this entire chapter, stands in opposition to the idea that life is meaningless and purposeless. It flies in the face of any idea that life is just a random collection of atoms moving along the currents of electromagnetic energy. This is about life heading somewhere, actually toward someone, who will finally be revealed in power and great glory.

This is not a fireworks show on the 4th of July. A show you just sit back and admire. This is the sound of an approaching army that demands a reaction. The rumble of a great unknown that shakes the windows, strikes a fire in your belly, and renders you speechless. Whether in awe or in terror, you will both move and be moved at the sights and sounds.

For centuries the people of Israel imagined the Great Day of the Lord. These were the images that captured those hopes. The loud trumpet – the sounds that leveled Jericho’s walls, that called the people of Israel to worship, that led the people of Israel in worship – would herald the arrival of the Messiah.

That sound continued in the Christian imagination. Those who expected Jesus to right all the wrongs of the world NOW, began to trust that Jesus simply hadn’t fully accomplished their ideals YET. The angels in Revelation 8 prefaced the unsealing of the mystery with their own trumpets. But, to see this vision coming to reality SOMEDAY is challenged by the ministry of Jesus which seeks to be realized every day.

Far better than seeing this as a preview of coming attractions, is to imagine the power of its musical score playing in our mind’s eye, like that ear worm song that we can’t quit thinking about, even as we go about the daily tasks of life. It’s goal is to fill us with hope, not dread.

Let us pray: Bring it on, Lord! Whatever you have in store for us, wherever you would lead us, bring it on. Give us a vision of your coming among us that encourages us to be the best we can be, to do the best that we can, to love completely, to follow willingly, to embrace what you have shown us to be that matters. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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