This blog post was originally written for the Perspectives program on KQED FM in San Francisco, California.
I don’t know what its like where you live, but in my neck of the woods–the San Francisco Bay Area–we’ve witnessed a proliferation of billboards announcing: “Cry Mightily Unto God! Judgment Day is Coming on May 21! The Bible Guarantees It!” Apparently someone read the Bible, made a few assumptions, took an illogical leap of faith, did the math, and came up with a calculation: Jesus is coming back, and soon.
This, of course, is nuts. People have been using the Bible to predict the end of the world for as long as there has been a Bible, and they’ve never been right. The history of the Christian church is filled with stories of great disappointments that occur when communities get hoodwinked into believing the rapture is at hand; true scholars of the Bible know that biblical passages about the End of Days are poetry, not meant to be taken as actual predictions. Not everyone listens to the smart people, however, and so, come May 22, a goodly number of folks will be confused and disappointed to wake up for an ordinary Sunday.
Nonetheless, we should celebrate on May 21. A wise man once said that if the world is coming to an end, the only thing you need is a bottle of Champagne and a couple of glasses. That’s good advice, so I say let’s make May 21st a holy festival, not because the world will come to and end, but because it won’t. Celebrate life and the ongoing beauty of the world we are blessed to call home and the human family in which we are privileged to claim membership.
At my house, on May 21st, we will we will drink Champagne, toasting the world that won’t end and the future that probably won’t be as bad as the newspapers suggest. I hope you’ll do the same. Maybe you don’t like Champagne or you cannot drink the stuff. That’s OK. Celebrate in some other way: make cupcakes and eat them off fine china, drink lemonade from heirloom crystal. Put on a tuxedo and dance, wear a ballroom gown with cowgirl boots and go fly a kite at the beach. Do whatever works; just have fun because life will go on.
And if for some wacky reason Judgment Day does come to pass on the 21st of May, you will be in a state of grace, entirely prepared to stand before your God.
P. S. Here’s an audio version from KQED FM in San Francisco:
P.P.S. Here’s a video of Bruce Cockburn singing the song that inspired this blog post: