Dear Hyde Park Family,
Okay, 2020. Let’s recap what you’ve brought us so far, shall we?
- A global pandemic has infected over 25 million people and killed nearly 900,000 around the world.
- We’ve had a series of jarring reminders of the ongoing presence of systemic racism in this country, and our streets and airwaves have been filled with cries for justice.
- The Summer Olympics in Tokyo were postponed until next year, the first time the games have been delayed since World War II.
- “Murder Hornets” arrived in the Pacific Northwest.
- Swarms of locusts have plagued parts of East Africa, India, Pakistan and Yemen.
- The waters of the Nahal Alexander River in Israel turned blood red; so did a river in Jasper, Indiana.
- Two tropical storm systems entered the Gulf of Mexico at nearly the same time and both hit the Texas/Louisiana coastline.
- Scientists have detected an asteroid heading toward the earth that has a 0.41% chance of hitting our planet the day before the general election.
- And oh, yeah. It’s a presidential election year.
It’s almost as if the script for 2020 was being written by The National Enquirer.
It is no surprise that with this flurry of unbelievable news stories, there has been quite a rise in the number of people predicting that these are signs of the end times. A Lifeway Research survey last April of pastors of evangelical churches found that a whopping 97% of them believed that such occurrences were proof that the end was near, and evidence that the return of Jesus was imminent.
Now, I’m not one to interpret today’s current events in this way. But I can understand a person’s need to make some sense of what is happening, and I can even commend a person for wanting to anchor that meaning biblically, even if I disagree with their interpretation.
I’m simply reminded that in Matthew’s gospel, which is our latest stop in our journey through the Bible, Jesus said, “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36)
So, what do we make of the events of 2020? Literally, God only knows!
The question of Jesus’ return was clearly on the minds of many in the early church, and as the gospels and epistles were written and circulated, many of them had their own unique take on how to understand and anticipate the signs of the end times.
This Sunday, we will take a deeper dive into how Matthew answered that question, based on the chapter 25 and the story of the sheep and the goats. We will discover what a unique and timely response he has for any of us who are longing for Jesus to return, and what to make of such an unusual and unsettling year as this one.
And join us for communion this Sunday! For those who are local in the area, we invite you to drive to the campus after the 9:30 and 11 a.m. services, or you can gather your own bread and grape juice to be part of the communion liturgy online.
See you Sunday!
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist