NOTRE DAME’S MUSEUM OF BIODIVERSITY AND MORAL LEADERSHIPMay 30th, 2013
The South Bend Tribune ran a fascinating cover story this week on the Museum of Biodiversity housed on the campus of Notre Dame University. Closed to the public, this climate-controlled museum features a priceless 150-year-old collection of plant specimens from around the globe. The entire herbarium collection is now numbered at 280,000 specimens. But the goal of the university’s scientists is not simply to enlarge the specimen collection. They are looking for “type” specimens—“the exact specimens the original scientist used to catalog and describe the plant species” (SBT 5-29-13). Each collected “type” specimen is carefully photographed and digitally stored for posterity in a huge online database called Global Plants (on the database website JSTOR) that now has 1.9 million entries. We’re not talking little snapshots, either. Each image, in fact, is 200 megabytes, which means each picture could be enlarged to cover a wall and still be clear. So while the museum is closed to the public, its treasure trove can be examined and admired by online visitors for years to come.
The Museum of Biodiversity collection has been expanded now to include animal fossils, vertebrates suspended in jars of formaldehyde and even a large collection of preserved insects. But I wonder—do you suppose we could find the fossil of a moral leader somewhere in that collection?
Moral leaders are becoming a rare breed on this terra firma, aren’t they? You remember the “type”—that man, that woman, that young adult or teenager (or even child, for that matter) who was uncommonly known as someone who unflinchingly stood up for conviction. Never mind the numbers of those around them who found it inconvenient to stand up at all, let alone to buck the crowd and have to stand alone. Moral leaders—those individuals who in a committee or on a board or in a classroom or dorm room are unafraid to politely but firmly defend what they are convicted is the right moral course to pursue, irrespective of popular opinion. Moral leaders—are they but a fossil relic from the past anymore?
Nobody said moral leaders would ever be in the majority, but history has taught us that even just one of them can shift the tide of humanity and rewrite the narrative of history. Just one.
But imagine what more than just one moral leader could do—imagine a band of them on a campus like ours. I imagine God imagines just such a reality. In fact, it really is no imagination at all. He predicts it: “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy’” (Acts 2:17-18). A band of moral leaders—young and old, men and women “in the last days.”
For that reason this summer we in this congregation and on this campus are claiming God’s promise in prayer—“I will do a new thing.” We have put off that prayer for too long. It is high time—for the sake of this university and the world into which God is sending it—for His “new thing” to become a reality on this campus. And so with 76 days until the new school year begins, we are praying for new moral leaders.
Would you be willing to join us in this prayer?
CLASS OF 2013: A CALL FOR MORAL LEADERSMay 23rd, 2013
Earlier this month I had the privilege of speaking for ten minutes to the Andrews Academy student body for one of their morning worships. I had actually spent an hour and a half the night before writing up a devotional for that worship. But as I was praying before leaving my study that night, I had hardly gotten two sentences into the prayer when a “voice” said to me: “Nice devotional, Dwight—but the wrong one.” I was so startled by that thought that I rose straight up onto my feet and said to myself, “No way!” But as I sat back down at my desk, it was essentially, “Yes way.” In that moment of reflection the impression came to tell the students about what had been happening the last few weeks and to end that telling with a call for moral leaders.
So that’s what I did that next morning. Told about how a couple weeks before I had been visiting with our youth pastor, Micheal Goetz. We were wondering what it would take around here to raise the bar so high that only God could accomplish it. No question, our campuses need a huge God-sized vision. Revival. A new breed of young missionaries. Etc. We had prayer together. Micheal left. And a few split seconds later there was a knock on my office door. A college kid named Jonathan stuck his head in, “Can you talk.” “No—I’ve got a board meeting in 20 minutes—what’s up?” “I’ve been walking around campus this afternoon thinking how much this university needs God—we really need a revival around here.” Suddenly I’m realizing he’s essentially summarizing the visit I’d just had with Micheal. We talked for a few moments, knelt to pray together, and when Jonathan left he promised that he would find twelve friends of his who would covenant to pray over the summer days ahead—every day—for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this campus in the new year.
That morning at worship with the academy students I told how a week later I’d spent an afternoon with Jose Bourget our chaplain, planning for our new year worship journey at Pioneer come September. He shared how he’d been interviewing university students for positions in Campus Ministry, and how he sensed a spiritual ambivalence among these interviewees. “We need new leaders around here.” We prayed together. The next morning I’m at the academy telling these high schoolers that it is very possible God is calling them—particularly the senior class graduating this weekend—to become the new moral leaders this university is needing. What if the Class of 2013 is in fact under divine appointment to become leaders for the Spirit of Christ on this campus? What would happen if we all committed to praying every day this summer for God to do “a new thing” on both campuses come the new year? And so I invited the students that morning to commit themselves to a “preseason of prayer,” to offer themselves to God as moral leaders, even if they must stand alone.
They stood to their feet, many of them. And I am praying that God will honor that commitment, and that for the Class of 2013 and the classmates they leave behind God will fulfill His promise: “I will do a new thing. . . . I will pour water on those who are thirsty and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit upon your descendants and My blessing upon your offspring” (Isaiah 43:19; 44:3). A God-sized promise and vision for a God-committed new generation of young moral leaders. I am convinced God is ready—and I am earnestly praying that over the summer days ahead the Class of 2013 and this congregation and these campuses will be readied for His “new thing.”
Would you be willing to join me in that prayer?
DRIP, DRIP, DRIPMay 15th, 2013
Drip, drip, drip. There are two ways to empty a tankful of water. You can crank open the faucet and let the water flow. Or—and this method is much slower, but just as effective—you can let the faucet drip one drop at a time. Either way the tank will eventually empty.
Two government disclosures this week—one from the IRS and the other from the Justice Department—are a reminder that the prized civil liberties upon which this nation was founded can also be emptied by the perennial drip, drip, drip of freedom leakage. Somebody within the Internal Revenue Service decided that any organization with “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in its name deserved extra scrutiny before being granted tax-exempt status. I.e., right-leaning political organizations were to receive this more stringent examination, all the while moderate and left-leaning organizations were left alone. While I am not a supporter of any political organization—right, middle or left—nevertheless I was astounded that in a nation that cherishes its right to independence from mainstream opinions such a blatant discriminatory action of government is possible!
Then a few days later we learned that the phone records of the news organization, the Associated Press, were secretly examined by the Justice Department of our national government without ever informing the AP organization of its investigation. Purportedly the government was concerned about news leaks regarding the CIA’s clandestine efforts in Yemen to thwart another airline bombing. I.e., for the sake of presumed national security, the civil liberty of freedom of press can be breached with no disclosure at all. Again, political alliances notwithstanding, since when does this nation’s government have the power to abrogate the constitutional rights of its citizens and organizations, irrespective of security demands?
Drip, drip, drip. One more reminder that the apocalyptic scenario predicted in Revelation 13 is losing its improbability one drip at a time. “Blessed is the one who stays awake” (Revelation 16:15). A red-letter admonition near the end of time and Scripture for this generation. Because one day we will awaken only to discover that the tank has been emptied. One drip at a time.
But the notion of “drip” isn’t entirely negative. Because in the metaphors of Scripture even a drip portends water, and outpouring water is God’s favorite descriptor of His outpouring Spirit. “For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants” (Isaiah 44:3). But have we become satisfied with just a drip, when in fact God is offering the torrential outpouring of the Holy Spirit?
That’s why we’ve chosen as a university congregation to consider the ninety days between us and the advent of another new school year to be a critical “preseason of prayer.” And so we are pledging ourselves to pray every day between now and the new year for God to fulfill His promise, “I will do a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19). No longer can we be satisfied with the interminable drip, drip of “the old thing.” We desperately need the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this university. Rearranging the furniture or new wallpaper will never slake our thirst or fulfill our mission. “I will do a new thing and pour out My Spirit on those who are thirsty.” Then why wouldn’t our prayers for that thirst and His promise be our #1 priority this summer?
HELD AGAINST HER WILLMay 8th, 2013
We’re all still shaking our heads with disbelief and joy over the headlines out of Cleveland, Ohio, this week. On Monday afternoon the 911 dispatcher heard the plea of a breathless female voice: “Help me. I’m Amanda Berry. I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for 10 years now and I’m, I’m here, I’m free now.” Emergency responders were at the door within minutes. “They’re more in there,” the young woman pointed to the second floor of the shuttered up house. “Two more.”
One desperate phone call, and the world learned their nearly unfathomable story—a decade long nightmare for three young girls, kidnapped one by one from their nearby neighborhoods, and held captive in a rundown house in that blue collar neighborhood, held by three men—brothers, all now in their 50s—held against their will. For a decade. And nobody knew. Not the three grieving families who were sure their girls were dead, not the authorities who knocked twice on that front door but didn’t investigated further, not the neighbors who every day passed by the garbage-bag-covered windows of that decrepit house—no one knew the unspeakable horrors Amanda Berry (now 27), Michelle Knight (32) and Gina DeJesus (23) endured in lost silence for ten years.
Held against her will. There surely is a Mother’s Day reflection embedded in this stunning headline. Not that our beloved mothers—God bless them—were ever held against their will by our needy childhoods. Quite to the contrary. As it was with my mother it surely was with yours, too—she endured all that she put with from a rascal like me (you, no doubt, were more cherubic than I) for the sake of her deep love for her children. Career dreams interrupted or even put on indefinite hold, fanciful visions of global adventure shelved away for another day or another lifetime, all because of a mother’s relentless love for the child she received from God. Held against her will—hardly. She was held by the will of God to pour out His love through her to the likes of you and me.
But beyond this national holiday, the truth is that there are women the world over who by desperate circumstances or cultural decrees are being held against their will. The recent tragedy in that Bangladeshi clothing factory that collapsed on top of hundreds of female workers was a reminder of the tens of thousands and millions of women on earth who slave away for a pittance of a wage, for the survival of their hungry families. Held against their will by circumstances we find abhorring. There are countless other women who have poured themselves into careers that have hit the proverbial glass ceiling—held back against their will by cultural norms that allow only males to “ascend” to such elevated responsibilities.
Jesus’ compelling example of filial love for His mother as He hung dying on the cross and His countercultural elevation of women in service and ministry throughout His life are evidence enough of God’s heart for the women of this race. Surely on this day in which we remember our blessed mothers we might also say a prayer for all the women who, held against their will, still wait for that God-moment when the locked door will fly wide open—open at last to God’s high ideals and personal calling for the daughters of His family on earth.
GRADUATE TO THE WORLDMay 1st, 2013
I was stunned to watch the now-arrested owner of the doomed factory in Dhaka declare on camera just hours before the collapse that there was no problem with his building—never mind the large cracks in the walls—the building is safe. In fact on the morning of the collapse, the owner and his associates were commanding hesitant workers, mainly women, to enter the factory and resume their shift work. Minutes later the eight-story block building collapsed in a roaring heap of dust. The death toll now stands at over 400, with another 1300 still missing.
Side-stepping the growing furor over western clothing companies that have taken advantage of essentially “slave labor” (as Pope Francis described it), I wonder if this tragedy is a parable of the civilization we live in and the world our graduates now enter. Could it be that the siren voices that increasingly warn us of massive economic cracks in the walls of our societies are going unheeded? And are the efforts of our political leaders to dismiss our growing concerns over this teetering economy as unconscionable as the Bangladeshi factory owner’s assurances? Could it be that we—all of us—live in a disintegrating infrastructure that, barring some sort of miraculous divine intervention, will collapse much sooner than we had thought?
Bangladeshi rescue workers report that the pleas for help emanating from the bowels of that concrete heap have weakened into silence. How many survivors are yet trapped in that cement tomb? If only bare hands could dig their way to them, to carry them to safety.
What about the hands and the heart of this university’s graduating class? Could it be that you have been tapped by the Nail-scarred One to hurry out into this collapsing civilization in search of survivors? Could it be that irrespective of your degree, your career, your ambitions and life goals, Heaven desperately needs your unique giftedness to connect with a generation that doesn’t even know it is entombed in this doomed earth factory? Maybe that’s why you were born?
Oh sure, after the tens of thousands your parents have invested in you, it may seem logical to conclude that your goal now is to “earn it back.” But maybe it’s to “give it back.” To the entrapped, the entombed in both the Third and First World. Too hopeless a cause these lost survivors? Or could it be the only cause with hope that is left?
T. S. Eliot:
. . . And right action is freedom
From past and future also.
For most of us, this is the aim
Never here to be realized;
Who are only undefeated
Because we have gone on trying . . .
(“The Dry Salvages”)
Jesus Christ: “‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it’” (Mark 8:34, 35).
SOCIAL MEDIA’S WILD GUESSApril 24th, 2013
Twin events in the past few days have revealed the catapulted status the social media now enjoy in our society. The Boston Marathon bombings and their aftermath last week and the hacked and tweeted hoax about a White House attack this week are a sobering reminder of the power wielded by a host of cyberspace social networks.
“Monday’s bombings, the first major terrorist attack on American soil in the age of smartphones, Twitter and Facebook, provided an opportunity for everyone to get involved. Within seconds of the first explosion, the Internet was alive with the collective ideas and reactions of the masses” (South Bend Tribune 4-21-13). In an instant, pictures and video clips from bystanders in Boston were circulating the Internet. Theories regarding the bombings and potential bombers began to multiply like a rogue virus. Innocent men and women were marked in photographs, in some cases identified by name and found guilty in the court of cyberspace. Some tout the investigative boost and assistance such Internet sleuthing can provide for law enforcement officials, but the fact is cyberspace got it wrong in Boston.
“‘This is one of the most alarming social media events of our time,’ said Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media studies professor at the University of Virginia. ‘We’re really good at uploading images and unleashing amateurs, but we’re not good with the social norms that would protect the innocent. . . . Sitting at our computers, it’s easy to forget that there are real people represented by these images and names. . . . And that’s when we see the arrogance of the crowd take over’” (ibid).
Then just yesterday the Associated Press Twitter account was hacked, and a hoax message—“Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured”—shot into cyberspace. In seconds traders on Wall Street got wind of the “explosions” and panicked. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted in a free-fall, “erasing nearly $200 billion off the broader market’s value” (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/23/hack-attack-on-associated-press-shows-vulnerable-media/2106985/). At best we now live in a world jittery with uncertainty. And this hoax has “underscored a great vulnerability in our 24/7 faster-is-better news environment: stories (even fake ones) travel at light speed and can in an instant upend an increasingly anxious public’s faith in business, government and the news media” (ibid).
Why should these two social media events matter to us? Because they are a stunning reminder that a faceless public can quickly jettison judicial “due process” by trying, interrogating and condemning the innocent in the court of public opinion. In a matter of hours, even minutes. And they can do so on the basis of evidence that is actually false or unsubstantiated. How rapidly, how wrongly the faceless ones can render judgment!
No wonder Revelation 13 predicts that on the heels of some catastrophic event this nation and the world (and the tolerating public within them) will try, interrogate, condemn and even execute the innocent in the dragon’s furious endgame. Will the faceless public of social media be his pawn? Given the last few days, wouldn’t you be surprised if they weren’t?
HERE WE GO AGAINApril 23rd, 2013
We were in the middle of our staff meeting Monday afternoon, when my phone beeped a text message. It was from Karen: “Bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.” Everyone around the table grabbed their phone, as with the rest of the nation we watched the first pictures from the marathon finish line. The orange explosion—twice, just a block apart. The surreal pause. Then mayhem. And now the casualty count this morning—3 dead, 183 injured, 13 amputations. Our hearts and prayers reach out to Boston and the grieving families.
But haven’t we dreamed this nightmare before? “Déjà vu all over again.”
And yet, have you noticed, our shock levels seem a tad depressed? Granted, 9-11 was a tragedy of epic proportions. But the steady drum beat of subsequent global terrorist acts—London, Madrid, Bombay, Kabul, Baghdad, Jerusalem—has beaten down our once painful sensitivity. Add to the international carnage this past year’s twin tragedies in our own homeland—the mass killings in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown Connecticut—and it may explain a collective freezing or at least diminishing of our emotional acuity. The repetition of evil numbs our perception of it and depresses our response to it. After all, how many times in a row can the human heart be triggered by inconsolable grief?
“‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (Mark 9:7) What would Christ say to Boston, to our nation, to the world? What word from Him could assuage our pain, our fears? Would it be a healing word for our beaten emotions? Or is there any healing left for us?
If as is evident our civilization is retrograding—if this steady drum beat is but a harbinger of that which is to come—then does it not follow that those who hear Christ most clearly (His followers, His disciples, His friends) will be His Kingdom’s most natural frontline to advance a word of hope and promise in the midst of this emotional carnage? Wouldn’t it follow that beyond educating our young, our most significant resources should be invested in communicating the healing word of Jesus to as many alive today as possible? In every nation on earth?
What if we raised up a generation of young, within this generation of earth, to be trained, equipped and mobilized to personally take that message of healing into this world? Today. The GYC and AYC movements, and other such similar spin-offs, may yet prove to be the godsend the church has been languishing for. Otherwise, if the institutional church simply keeps processing its young through its universities, with degrees but minus the passion and equipping of radical young disciples, what have we done to advance the Kingdom agenda in a society now desperate with fear and hopeless confusion?
At some point, somebody is going to say, Enough is enough. God help it to be you.
SHALL WE BECOME A CHRISTIAN NATION?April 10th, 2013
According to a recent Huffington Post/YouGov poll of Americans, 32% of us expressed our desire for Christianity to become the “official” religion of the United States. Forty-two percent of respondents opposed that notion, with 32% of them “strongly opposed.” I share their strong opposition.
That’s why it really isn’t so inconsequential that a group of eleven Republican state representatives in North Carolina this past week pushed for a state resolution declaring that while the U. S. Constitution forbids the establishment of religion, that prohibition only applies to the federal government and not to the states. Thus, according to these legislators, each state has the right to establish a religion in that state according to the dictates of the electorate. Their resolution did not pass. While many considered their legislative maneuver doomed from the start, their effort nevertheless has elevated the issue to a much wider discussion.
Turns out the quest for the “Christianization” of America is not new. In the latter half of the nineteenth century a group of ministers banded together to form the National Reform Association. According to a blog on the website First Things, they proposed the following amendment to the preamble of the Constitution:
“WE, THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, [recognizing the being and attributes of Almighty God, the Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures, the law of God as the paramount rule, and Jesus, the Messiah, the Saviour and Lord of all] in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/04/09/no-surprise-that-32-of-americans-want-a-christian-constitutional-amendment/)
John Fea, author of this First Things blog and the book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?, notes that these National Reform ministers “were very careful to affirm that they were not opposing religious liberty and were not interested in creating a theocracy. But they did want to give Christianity a privileged place in America. This meant the promotion of Bible reading in schools, the preservation of the Christian sabbath, and the public recognition of the teaching of Christianity as the nation’s moral guide.”
The preservation of the “Christian sabbath”? Is that where the “Christianization” of America would lead us?
This week we learned one out of three Americans would like to see Christianity established as the official religion of this nation. Let the moral (or immoral) conditions of our society continue to deteriorate, and it isn’t rocket science to assume such numbers will only increase. Let a series of natural, national calamities strike us, and I imagine a majority hue and cry for a state-sponsored religion (“return this country to God” would no doubt be the moniker for such a move).
The point? You can get there from here. Which means that from here on out vigilance on behalf of religious liberty is critical. And diligence on behalf of our apocalyptic mission is essential. Somewhere I read that what we neglect to do in a time of prosperity, we shall yet have to do in a time of great duress. Thus for us the sentiment of the young Christ is all the more applicable: “Don’t you know that we must be about our Father’s business?” (see Luke 2:49). Would to God the church were awake!
MY MOTHER WAS BORN IN NORTH KOREAApril 3rd, 2013
It’s true. She was born in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Only it wasn’t North Korea back then—it was simply Korea. My grandparents, Ralph and Mildred Watts, were young missionaries in Korea when Mom was born, and they ended up serving seventeen years in that country. So having grown up as a missionaries’ kid myself in Japan (where I was born) and having consumed Korean bibimbap (a delectable rice dish) and kimchee (marinated cabbage and chili) throughout my life, you can understand my personal interest in the unfolding saga between North and South Korea these last few weeks.
I never cease to be amazed at how quickly the geopolitical landscape of our small planet can shift. Two years ago it was the “Arab spring”—Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran—then it was back to Libya, Iran and Syria. And in between it all has been Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and then back to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. And now the Korean peninsula is once again embroiled in the noisy nuclear saber rattling that has characterized the unsettled coexistence of these two nations since the armistice of 1953.
Somewhere I remember reading—was it the words of Jesus?—about “nation against nation” and “wars and rumors of war” being a chronic and perpetual harbinger of earth’s eventual collapse. Welcome to our third millennial world.
But on this International Student Sabbath here at Andrews University we are a campus of Christian Adventist optimists—optimistic in the midst of our world’s chronic dysfunction, simply because we have learned that upheaval and change are allies with God’s strategic mission to reach this generation. Sociologists and psychologists tell us that when a human being is experiencing sudden or radical change—be it the death of a loved one, personal illness, the loss of a job, et al—that person is significantly more open to spiritual change than usual. God is not the author of chaos and confusion—His archenemy is. But divine omnipotence being what it is (all-powerful and all-creative), Heaven seizes the dark upheaval on earth and transforms it into a glorious opportunity to transmit the everlasting good news of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Which being interpreted means that right now in earth’s history is a profound opportunity to engage in Christ’s mission to reach this planet with the good news of His soon return. Right now is a significant opening door for you and me to personally join with the Spirit of Jesus in reaching this generation for Him. In fact, right now is splendid opportunity to enlist as a full-time or part-time missionary for the Kingdom. “‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’” (Mark 16:15). Jesus’ parting command to His followers clearly includes both South and North Korea. Which means it is possible that someone reading these words right now is being tapped by the Holy Spirit to prepare to enter North Korean the moment that wall comes down and the door opens. It could very well be that you are being called and, unbeknown to you, are already being prepped by the God of the universe to become a strategic player in His endgame to reach “every creature” north of the 38th parallel. (Go to www.afmonline.org to explore God’s opportunities.)
This much I know on this International Student Sabbath—Calvary’s crimson mission has been international from the beginning. Which explains this terse line a century ago: “God’s people have always been aggressive missionaries, consecrating their resources to the honor of His name, and wisely using their talents in His service” (Maranatha 123). Let’s go!
A NEW POPE FOR EASTERMarch 28th, 2013
The global press has been awash in accolades for Pope Francis. No doubt the dramatic contrast between the personalities of this new pope and his predecessor, Benedict XVI, has fueled the news media’s complimentary, sometimes glowing, coverage of this new reign. And Pope Francis’ publicly warm and modest persona have only heightened the fascination of the secular press. The reports are nearly daily chronicling the self-deprecating, people-friendly style of Rome’s new leader—from his rejection of the armored Pope-mobile and wading out into the crowds to his decision this week to renounce the palatial papal quarters in the Vatican for a much more modest room in the nearby Santa Martha hotel-style residence that he will share with other priests. The International Business Times reported: “In what seemed to be a further confirmation to his simple, humble and laidback lifestyle, one-week-old newly installed Pope Francis has shunned the Vatican Palace and instead has chosen to remain living in the Vatican guesthouse where he has actually been staying since coming to Rome to participate in the papal conclave that chose him to become its supreme spiritual pontiff” (http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/450767/20130327/what-seemed-further-confirmation-simple-humble-laidback.htm#.UVL83RysiSo). The news media have dutifully pointed out that the new domicile for the resigned pope will be more opulent than that for Pope Francis!
But just as amazing as the press coverage has been the scramble among the faithful to show that Pope Francis indeed fulfills the predictions of the canonized Irish archbishop Malachy (1094-1148). Purportedly Malachy predicted the cryptic identity of every pope (112 of them) between his day and the endtime judgment of the world. According to the faithful, Pope Francis is that 112th pope, and now expositors are showing that in fact his family name, along with his chosen name of Francis, are a literal match with Malachy’s identification of the final pope, when “Rome, the seat of the Vatican, will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people.” How eager the human mind to latch onto a date for the terminus of history!
But the genuine end of human history was writ large on that early Sunday morning when the incarnate God of the universe rose up from the dead, shattering not only His borrowed sepulcher, but also the very barred gates of Death and the Grave itself! “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Revelation 1:18 NIV). There were no media to adulate over the risen Jesus—just a smitten band of Roman guards and a handful of women. And yet history was rent in twain by His triumphant resurrection, its ending forever secured for His friends—“Because I live, you will also live” (John 14:19).
So never mind the popes, who come and go—for they, like we all, can only hope in the grace and power of the risen and soon-coming Christ!