Magazine article The Christian Century

Time's Up

Magazine article The Christian Century

Time's Up

Article excerpt

AS THE LEAVES FALL from the trees and the earth goes brown and bare, the church contemplates the end as well--the end of our lives in death and the end of the world with Christ's coming. The very idea that there will be an end is threatening to those of us who have pretty good lives and good plans for the future. For those of us who experience life as a roller coaster of ups and downs, on the other hand, or those who experience life as mostly downs, the idea of "an end to it all" may be comforting.

Those among us who are very elderly or very ill think often about the end of our lives. We prepare and put things in order. Those of us who aren't ill or elderly are busy living in the middle of things. But what if we all needed to prepare for the end?

What if you knew you had only one month left in your life?

* Would you finish up important matters at work?

* Would you travel to a place you always wanted to go?

* Would you pray more, go to church more, do that generous act you always wanted to do for others?

* Would you find ways to leave a mark on the world?

* Would you reconcile a fractured friendship?

By answering yes to one or more of these possibilities, we indicate that in our last days we would be better stewards of all the things God has given us in this life--better than we are now. In the intensity of last days, we would live better, be better. We would be more generous, more focused on the most important things in life. The question is: Why do we need to be under threat of death to be better stewards?

Here's another "what if." What if we discovered that our congregation only had one more month to exist? If my congregation only had a month to live, I would want all the members to be together as much as possible. If only for one precious Sunday, I'd like to have everybody listed in our church directory together for worship, If our time as a congregation was almost over, I don't think we'd have much trouble getting inactive or barely active members and friends to join us. End times have that kind of power.

As members of a congregation at the end of its life, we would also have the great opportunity to decide what we wanted to do with our assets. Provided God or the bishop left that up to us, we would have a few million dollars worth of read estate, cash and furnishings to disperse back into the local community and the Christian community.

How would we decide what to do with the money? …

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