One of my most horrifying memories of high school was the day my history teacher and a student were arguing about the percentage of students that cut/illegally skipped classes.
The student claimed with adolescent confidence based on absolutely no evidence, Everybody cuts.
The teacher countered with, Not everybody. Steve, you have never cut class have you?
Gasp! What to do? Think fast. Cant think panicking!
No, I had never cut class. I was just too shy to leave school and go somewhere where there might be strangers, who I might be expected to talk to. But, I really, really didnt want to admit it in front of 30 or so other inner-city teenagers who were already suspicious of me because I was so quiet.
So, I lied. Sure, I have cut.
Then I probably turned red, dropped my pencil on the floor on purpose and dove under the desk to pick it up, and hide before anyone could ask details. I was, and still am, a lousy liar.
Things have certainly changed in 30 years.
Earlier this month, my wife and I travelled to Sioux Falls, S.D., for a small church conference. You know what I did my first day there? I cut class.
Our downtown conference center was literally a five minute walk from the citys Falls Park which has walking trails all along the Big Sioux River, and yes, there really are beautiful falls there.
I just couldnt resist getting out in the warm sunshine. There was no one calling me, needing me to be at a committee meeting, nor were there any expectations that I had to be somewhere. So, I cut class, thinking of that long ago day and discussion in my history class back at West Technical High School.
I was only in the park for a few minutes when I noticed three campers and a pickup truck all painted the same and parked in the lot adjacent to the park. Going closer for a better look, I saw they all proclaimed in bold writing: Judgment Day May 21, 2011 The End of the World is Almost Here!
If you are reading this, that prediction has not come to pass.
Part of me wants to say, See. What did Jesus tell us? We cant be arrogant enough to predict these things. Not even Jesus knew when the Second Coming would take place. For He said in Matthew 24: 36, About that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Part of me is kind of disappointed. A lot of well-meaning people really thought it would happen. A lot of good people anticipated a new and better time for humanity. Such hope and optimism is important to the human endeavor.
The biggest part of me goes back to the very first chapter of the Gospel of Mark. About the end times, Jesus simply says, be ready. The Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the Good News of the Gospel. (Mark 1:15) In other words, live every day ready to greet the Father.
The Kingdom of God is at hand! This is the focus of Jesus teaching. Because the Son of God Jesus Himself came into the world, a new time has broken into our reality: We live ultimately in Kingdom of God time.
This is a world where God is near. God is with us. We understand God in a new and wonderful way. For us, God is now:
Father Creator The perfect loving parent who, out of perfect love, gives everything to His children.
Son One of us who lived, died, rose just as we will with Him the Son who shows perfect love in teaching, healing, dying, rising obediently doing all the Father commands.
Holy Spirit One who leads us by walking beside us. One who is always with us showing us the way. One who loves us so much, sometimes carries us, and prays when we dont have the words.
Wake up! Look around you! This is Gods place and we are living in Gods time! The Kingdom of God is at Hand!
Yes, Jesus will come again to judge the quick and the dead. But right here, and right now, the Kingdom of God is at hand. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
As we recognize God in our lives and live with him rejoicing then indeed, we are ready when he comes again. We live out God with us right now. We cant get away from it.
This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
The Rev. Steve Nofel is co-pastor of Montezuma Valley Presbyterian Church. This column appears the fourth Saturday of every month.