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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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Advent 2, Year B
South Sydney Uniting Church
December 4, 2011

2 Peter 3:8-15a

End of the world’

There have always been Christians for whom the imminent end of the world is a compelling, sometimes comforting, notion. The apocalyptic imagination conjures fire and fireworks, darkness, judgement – destruction and re-creation. It can seem primitive, crass, emotional – and yet it’s long been a mode of religious thought, and often highly complex and intellectual.

I think of contemporary fundamentalism (escapist and anti-intellectual) but also modern science fiction, which critiques the chauvinism of the present – by way of future technologies and dilemmas, new possibilities for life together. It’s usually far-fetched, and that’s the point.

Not only does apocalyptic imagination call to mind the brute fact of human limitations (we’re all moving towards the “end” – personally, culturally, historically), it also calls us, as perhaps no generation has ever been called, to address environmental damage and decay – the world of ever-increasing humans and human appetites, the world of diminishing bio-diversity – the world of climate change – droughts, floods, melting sea ice, and so on.

We’re not about to stamp out apocalyptic thinking, though we should always be prepared, I believe, to critique narrow-minded fear-mongering. The world may well end, one day. How shall we live in it? The world as we know it is ever at an end – and ever re-created. How, for Christ’s sake, shall we live in it?

These are not so much my thoughts as a reworking of our epistle. Peter writes: “… what we await are new heavens and a new earth where, according to the promise, God’s justice will reside … Consider our God’s patience as your opportunity for salvation.”

These verses do what holy Scripture is professed to do – they imbue common anxiety (and superstition) with uncommon grace and hope. They speak into the general knowledge of a time and invite a flowering of wisdom. 2 Peter 3:1 reads: “Beloved, this is the second letter I have written you. I wrote both of them to stir up your honest minds.”

How does the Spirit stir up your honest mind today? What questions are raised for you? What opportunities do you discern for “salvation” – which means wellness and wholeness?

Today, we’ll contemplate this question in silence, complete the homily in silence. We’ll then take some time to complete a survey (NCLS) the results of which, it is hoped, will help the churches to speak into the general knowledge of our time and invite a flowering of wisdom. NCLS results are for our congregation as well – to help build our own understanding and development of our ministriesAmen.