Sunday, July 29, 2007

Is there still hope?

Imagine a village destined to be drowned for a new reservoir. It will not take place for a few years; no-one has to move for a while. The kind, generous government has offered compensation for the houses at above the market rate, but it will take a few years before anyone has to decamp. There is a broken hinge on the garden gate at Rose Cottage, but it is hardly worth repairing as the owners will be gone soon. The road really needs resurfacing at Cooper's Corner, but fishes have no need of smooth tarmacadam, so why bother? Slowly the village becomes shabbier and more distressed; there is no hope for it.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast
Man never is, but always 'To be blest'.

wrote Alexander Pope. Is that still so? Have we given up waiting for something better? Or is Kipling more to our taste?
We are done with Hope and Honour, we are lost to Love and Truth
We are dropping down the ladder rung by rung;

Mark chapter 13 is one of the most controversial in the whole gospel. Jesus speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem and he talks of the Second Coming, but they are mixed up and confused. We have seen the fall of Jerusalem. Those great stones dislodged and degraded. The site built on by an alien religion. Jesus had already told his disciples that the time for Temple worship was over; that there was a new covenant. It is summarized in the letter to the Hebrews: 'It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins'. 'Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.''He sets aside the first to establish the second.' 'But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.'

Naturally, the Temple would be destroyed. It was no longer fit for purpose.

But when oh when is he coming again?

Mark chapter 13 tells us not to be lulled into complacency. We are to watch as we wait. 'There will be many who come in my name, claiming I am He'. We are not to be gulled. There will be wars and rumors of wars. We are not to be impatient. There will be trials and tribulations. We are not to be discouraged.

There have been many cults with their charts and maps who claim to know the date of his return. Jesus said, "No-one knows about that day or that hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." We are not to be disappointed as milestones pass.

But be assured He will return. Unlike the inhabitants of the soon-to-be-drowned village, we should not neglect our post. The coming of the Lord is as close as a swallow swooping over the lake for Mayflies. And although we do not know the day when we 'will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory' for each of us there is a finite time of waiting with an indeterminate end. Our next breath might be our last.

'So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while He who is coming will come and will not delay... But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.


H Paul Garland said...

The first half of this blog entry, I thought Professor Hamblin was talking about so many of us CLL patients. It sure describes the way I am at times. Why worry about that too much? I've got CLL and I won't be around forever.

In some ways CLL is a blessing. It makes you very aware of your own mortality and brings the important things into much better focus. And makes it much easier to just blow off the unimporant nonsence.

The second coming? Well I was raised a Christian and confirmed in the Episcopal brand of that religion. But at this point I find myself much more interested in living ethically and morally. Priests that are greedy or are into young boys' butts have done tremendous damage to the Christian church.

Wishing the best to all my friends who have CLL, and especially the very best to Doctor Hamblin.

Paul Garland
El Paso, Texas USA

Terry Hamblin said...

I have a beef with Christians, but not with Christ. Roman Catholics who oppose contraception; tele-evangelists who take money off poor widows; Charismatics who wave their hands in the air at repetitive choruses; white supremacists who view black people as a lower race; black churches where white men are personified as the Devil; Anglican Bishops who espouse any left-wing agenda but neglect the Bible; narrow bigots who think that all electric guitars are plugged in to Hell and, most of all, pedophiles who have seen the church as a safe and opportune way to practice their vile perversion; they all make me angry. How true is this little piece of doggerel:
Living above with saints we love/that will be grace and glory;/ living below with saints we know/that is a different story.

Nevertheless, the Bible tells us 'How good and pleasant it is when brother live together in unity".

Perhaps St Augustine put it best:
In essentials unity; in non-essentials liberty; in all things charity.