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1 Advent - Matthew 24:36-44

In case of rapture, this pulpit may remain occupied.

When Jesus returns, I'm not sure he'll pick me to play on his team, because I’m too much

sinner and never enough saint.

But it's not just me that I have doubts about.

I also have my doubts about the rapture itself.

Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken, and one will be left.

Taken where, by whom?

Jesus doesn't say.

If I'm one of two women standing at a bar, I'm not sure I want to be the one taken.

The Christian dream date when the Son of Man strolls in to sweep the faithful off their feet holds no specific promise that we're all going straight back to Jesus' safe, well-lit townhome.

"Given the choice," said one of my seminary professors, "I'd rather stay here!"

That, of course, is faithless heresy, to hear some Christians talk.

This gospel text is a favorite of many American Christians who believe in and speculate

vigorously about The Rapture, when Jesus returns to hand-pluck the faithful off the earth

into the safety and security of heaven, a gated community.

Whether we are Bible students, sports pundits, real estate investors, or family gossips, we as

people do love to speculate.

It can be great fun trying to guess the future, and lucrative too when we get it right or capitalize on this impulse by creating a fantasy franchise with lots of blood and terror and zombies.

A few years back, the wildly popular Left Behind series of novels combined such speculation

with video game violence to mix the perfect American religious cocktail.

Diligent Scripture detectives, intent on cracking the code that God simply must have buried in the Bible encrypting the secrets of the end of the world, sift through passages like today's

gospel to try to glean clues for expert predictions on the destinies of the two women

grinding meal.

I am struck by the weird similarity of Trinity Broadcast Network programs forecasting the end of the world and college football playoff analysis on ESPN.

The bald truth is, we want to know what's going to happen before it actually does, whether bec