Vicar’s Reflection: Ordinary Sunday 32, November 12th 2017
“Are you ready for the Rapture? Jesus is coming on October 28, 1992.” So reads a sad weather-worn sign somewhere in the mid-western states of America. The concept of The Rapture is largely drawn from today’s passage in 1 Thessalonians 4.15-18 but it is connected to several others, including parables of warning such as Matthew 24:36-42, and the account of Jesus’ Ascension in Acts 1:6-11. The idea is that at some point in time God will use a great vacuum cleaner and suck up those who are Christians and leave behind the ungodly to an agonising fate, while the Christians join Jesus in paradise in the sky. To those who live through times of fearsome oppression and persecution it is encouraging to believe that the present sufferings will lead on to blessings and reward. This is a feature of Apocalyptic literature and there are several parts of the Bible like this. But it is also a feature of modern thinking as we contemplate various doom-laden scenarios around climate change, tsunamis and nuclear war. A series of best-selling novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins published between 1995–2007 increased awareness of the Rapture concept. Modern novels and disaster movies freely use apocalyptic imagery for much the same reason the Bible does, to warn us of danger, to frighten us enough to take urgent action but also to reaffirm and reassure us of the enduring values that make life worthwhile and meaningful even as we contemplate the real possibility of disaster.