Thursday, February 11, 2010

The World Without Us

I think Jesus was a gardener. I know the Bible says he was a carpenter. But in those days it was common for most families to grow their own food, and sometimes even have a small vineyard or olive grove to supplement their income. I think Jesus' heart was in growing things, not making things. You can tell by the stories he tells. There are very few building illustrations in his preaching, but lots of agricultural images!

I also have a modest garden in my backyard in which I grow a variety of vegetables. I have two favorite gardening seasons - planting and harvesting. Planting season is exciting for its sense of anticipation and expectation. Harvest season is even better. It is the culmination of all the weeks and months of work.

Revelation 14 pictures harvest season on earth. I could go into the details of the symbolism, but I would rather paint the big picture.

The earth has its geological seasons. They say the earth is warming. (I wouldn't know it from the mountains of snow in my yard, but let's say it is true for Al Gore's sake.) The earth has its ice ages and tropical eras, its winters and springs. We are entering the summer of the earth. Deserts are expanding, glaciers are receding, and ice caps are melting. That means global autumn - and harvest - is just around the corner.

Humankind has its seasons, and our end is approaching. Alan Weisman has a book entitled, The World Without Us,which describes the earth after the demise of the human race. His apocalyptic vision is worth pondering.

Each person has a life cycle. One day the world will go on without us. As I grow older, I become more aware of my mortality. One day my body will give out. It will be burned up, and my ashes scattered in the mountains to fertilize pines and maples. All that will remain is what I have done.

The East calls it karma. The West calls it judgment. Whatever we call it, it is true. Our works will follow us. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them."  (Revelation 14:13)

The good news is that this is pronounced as a blessing to be welcomed like the autumn harvest for those who "die in the Lord." Praise God for the work of Christ, which followed him ... and by his grace follows me after my time on earth is over.

(Artwork is Der Triumph des Lammes, der Fall Babylons / Ernte und Blutkelter by Matthias Gerung 1530-1532)

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