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First Sunday of Advent - November 27, 2022



The Late Great Planet Earth.

Like a Thief in the Night.

The Left Behind Series.


For those of us who grew up in a certain strand of American culture, our Gospel passage today really had its media moment, didn't it?


I can actually remember going to a slumber party where when the first girl fell asleep, we all arranged our clothes and shoes around her as if we'd been raptured and she’d been left behind. We left the room and banged on some pots and pans to wake her up . . . I mean, a certain dramatic interpretation of this Gospel passage hit the culture hard in the 80s.


If you ever lost friends in middle school over whether you were a pre- or post millennialist,

or maybe you slept in the same bed as your sibling for years just to make sure one of you wasn't left behind . . . then you know exactly what I’m talking about.


[That's a thing that could have happened. Allegedly.]


If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you're probably a cradle Episcopalian.

The mid 1800s rapture theology of John Nelson Darby never really made it into the matrix of our “Scripture, tradition, reason” paradigm, so it makes sense that it wasn't on your radar.


In fact, most of you probably know by now that I live in far northwestern Washington state - right up by the Canadian border - and I was in church there a couple of weeks ago. Coffee hour. Like one does.

And I answered a question with a tongue-in-cheek "Well, that depends if you're a pre or post-tribber ..." and the other person just looked at me very blankly,


But thankfully I was saved from the awkward task of trying to explain the joke, because someone came into the parish hall and announced that a white Subaru in the parking lot had its lights on. So, naturally, half of us had to leave to check our cars.


Which, incidentally is the closest that Episcopalians get to being raptured - two will be having coffee, one will be taken, the other left behind.


*


Joking aside, Deacon Tammy did a fabulous job a couple of Sundays ago conveying the FEAR that passages like this have instilled in people, and the lingering anxiety many people are still carrying around. Deacon Tammy referred to the movie she saw depicting children being torn from their parents arms as the child is raptured up to heaven leaving behind the rest of the family.


Many of us could relate to Tammy’s story because many of us have been evangelized in this way.