Here in Chicago this 21st of May 2011, has been overcast with rain showers. Not enough rain to keep people indoors but enough to need an umbrella on hand and serve as a blanket of quiet and calm. Well this may be my perception. Overcast gloomy days generally leave me with a feeling of melancholic contentment. So this day has been a mellow day: made breakfast for the community and we had our meeting, then worked on the base drawings for some icons and then ran some errands. Now sitting here at the computer writing this post. As I check the news on the internet it seems like a fairly quiet and uneventful news day. World events don't seem to be providing Harold Camping, with an alternative explanation. Yet, Jesus said the day would come like a thief in the night unexpectedly, perhaps even unnoticed, until some future moment of wakefulness.
It doesn't seem to me that Harold Camping's last prediction in 1994 made quite the same stir it did this time around. But then a great dealt has changed in the intervening 17 years. In 1994 evangelicals weren't yet taken seriously as a political power house. We have come to fear minorities and the fringe elements of religious belief and practice. I have been dismayed at the mockery, and in that mockery the seeming ignorance that even among those Christians who believe in the "Rapture" that Camping and his followers were alone in believing the prediction. Or even aware that Christians who believe in the "Rapture" are themselves only a portion of the Christian landscape, and while in the US they may consider themselves the representatives of True Christianity, if you look at the historic Christian faith, their opinions would be largely seen as heretical. My point is that to some degree the attention paid, and the energy that has been spent on this prediction is disproportionate to the role this prediction and the underlying belief system plays in the 2000 or so years of Christian theology teaching and practice.
I find it fitting that this is a quiet day. For those who aren't Christian who think this is a time to mock faith, realize Camping may share a belief system held by a significant proportion of American Christianity, but even his co-religionists did not accept his prediction. You can mock if you will, and I have made a joke or two myself, but recognize that the vast majority of Christians were not expecting anything to happen today. This in fact says very little about faith or religion, though it may say something about our human nature. And as a Christian it is our fallible sinful escapist human nature that is the reason Christianity exists. We humans need to be saved from ourselves and when we are convinced that we have it, and saved ourselves is the very moment we confront our need for salvation. So, I caution anyone of us if we are feeling superior for our not believing.
On this quiet day remembering that Jesus says the ultimate things, the last things, the End, will come quietly like a thief, unknown and noticed until it is all over. I lift up Camping and his follower's to God, and in humility quietly pass on. I recommend we all do the same.