Beer Truck Eschatology

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My parishioner and friend, WEV, lives his life under the Beer Truck Principle.  That is, you never know when your life might be suddenly ended by an unfortunate meeting with a beer truck, so you better live your life to the fullest in every moment.  WEV chose a beer truck as the design of his untimely end, but Jesus, as you might assume, has something even more cosmic in mind.

The second half of Sunday’s Gospel lesson seems to mark a change.  While the lesson begins with what appears to be the tidying up of some stewardship loose ends from last Sunday’s lesson, Jesus’ attention shifts from a focus on foolishness of storing up treasures on earth at the end of our individual lives to the reality that someday, the whole world is going to come to an end.  In only a few short verse, Jesus introduces the idea of a Beer Truck Eschatology.  We know not the hour when God will bring forth the new heaven and the new earth, so we are best served living lives of faithful discipleship in every moment; being fully prepared for that day and hour, which know one knows, when the Son of Man will return.

While we might quibble with the motivation for our faithful discipleship, the reality that someday, Jesus will return and it would behoove us to be found living the life of the Kingdom that is coming seems as good a motivation as any.  How do we live lives worthy of the Master’s good pleasure?  We care for the poor, the outcast, and the oppressed.  We proclaim the Good News of God’s salvation in word and deed.  We seek justice for every human being.  We love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and we love our neighbors as ourselves.

This isn’t easy, to be sure.  And neither would it have been easy for the slaves to keep watch for their Master when wedding feasts were known to last days on end.  But the reward for faithfulness is beyond all measure.  That the Master would stoop down to serve his slaves is unimaginable, and yet, that’s precisely how Jesus describes the age to come for those who are found ready when the Son of Man comes.

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In What do you Trust?

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The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office has joined in the growing number of police departments that have added “In God we Trust” to their patrol cars.  As a member of the clergy, I should probably be more excited about this growing trend, but so often these moves feel like they are done in spite, which makes me feel icky (a deeply theological term).  Anyway, no matter how I feel about the new sticker and fully aware that my judgmental nature is well outside the “radiating the glory of God” category, I’ve actually found myself drawn to these words that we find printed everywhere from Sheriff’s patrol cars to the almost useless penny.

In God we Trust

This is such a profound creedal statement, that if it were really true, would change the face of the earth.  In Sunday’s various lessons, we hear a lot about trust, which in theology is called faith or belief.  For Abram to believe that Sarai was going to bear a child at 90 required something deeper than the intellectual assent we post-enlightenment westerners associate with belief.  Rather, Abram had to trust in God fully.  He placed his whole stake trusting that God would keep his promise. As a result of that trust, the entire course of human history was changed.

Paul, in his letter/sermon to the Hebrews offers a helpful way of looking at trust/faith/belief.  “Faith,” he writes, “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is having trust in the one who makes promises, which, again, if we really believed this, the world would be a vastly different place.

Which leads us finally to Jesus’ final word on the parable of the foolish rich man that we heard last week. As he explains the parable to his disciples, the tells them that “where their treasure is, their heart will be also.”  He lays it down before them, wondering, do you trust my word enough to follow me fully in heart, mind, soul, and body? Or, is your trust in someone or something else? Is your trust bifurcated? Are you willing to follow me fully?

Placing our full trust in God is not easy. There are plenty of forces: powers and principalities; that clamor for a little chunk of our trust – us tiling fear, frustration, and the promise of a better future than God has prepared.  To stake out future solely on God can be frightening, but as Jesus, Paul, and Abram show us, the reward is well beyond anything this world can offer.