In Daniel's prophecy, we read, "When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I tried to understand it. Then someone appeared standing before me, having the appearance of a man, and I heard a human voice by the Ulai, calling, "Gabriel, help this man understand the vision. So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I became frightened and fell prostrate. But he said to me, 'Understand, O mortal, that the vision is for the time of the end."
Don't you love it? For the time of the end, not the end of time. The prophecy strikes like summer evening lightening, and we go down, prostrate on unlevel ground. One moment we're standing, peering into the dark skies with anticipation, and the next we're down, literally down before the living most-powerful God.
Daniel finishes the thought by writing, "At the end of their rule, when the transgressions have reached their full measure, a king of bold countenance shall arise, skilled in intrigue. He shall grow strong in power, shall cause fearful destruction, and shall succeed in what he does. He shall destroy the powerful, and the people of the holy ones."
As I type this morning, a strong dry wind is swaying the tall green bushes that reach out to shake the hands of visitors to the entrance to the side door of the church. Like a couple of gargoyles, the thick bushes flank the open door as if they were hiding clues to entry. These are soldiers of the cross as it were, keeping secret their entry codes. Water, earth, sky are the secret passwords that will open the double-doors to the hallway that leads to my office. The Universe declares mortal entries dancing down through the double doors into the laminate-covered floorboards. I await the next command from these entry stallions.
Today is Friday, and I'm tired from a long week of activity. This evening we, eight of us, take 28 or so youth on retreat. We will be firing up these kids with hot dogs and smores, with ultimate underground church, with rock wall climbing and ropes work and swimming and devos galore. We hope that at the end of their rule, when their transgressions have reached their full measure, a king of bold countenance shall arise. Or something like that.
Interestingly, I never went on a retreat when I was these kids' ages. This is all so new to me, in a way. While the heat builds and the prayer circle builds in power, I ask that God's will be shown to us, and (here's the key I reckon) we do His will.
God's love is better than life. Life is better than death. Death is better than a million years without God.
As May morphs into June, as dark thirty turns into light 60, as the beauty of The Lord makes us stand in silence, I know that God's love will lead someone to repentance this weekend. Let us be worthy of God's calling. Let us be worthy of God's love. Let us be worthy of God's mercy.
Open up the skies of mercy, O Lord, As the healing waters surround us, O God, let us be the messengers of Good News.
Today, O God, send us out with a bucket-full of living water. Send us out with a deep need for each other. Let us, O God, be glorified so that we might show the glory of the Father to the world.
Protect us. Keep us. Let your face shine upon us., like a mother hen looking out on her playing brood.
I can only imagine.