November 18, 2012
Mrs. Lipinski was a classically-trained pianist. After she retired, she decided to give piano lessons in her home. Over the years, most all of the children in her neighborhood spent some time at her keyboard. When the time came for each child to give a recital, Mrs. Lipinski would make him or her practice the end of the piece over and over again. When the children protested saying, “Why do we have to keep playing these last few measures so often,” Mrs. Lipinski would answer, “You can make a mistake at the beginning of the piece or in the middle of the piece or anywhere else along the way. But all of that will be forgotten if you can finish with a glorious ending.”
Endings are important. They are the final word. In today’s Gospel, Jesus promises us a glorious ending. He says that on the last day the evil powers of the world will be shaken and the angels of God will gather us into God’s kingdom. The fundamental truth of our faith is that God is not idle. God is active. God is working to direct our lives and our world to a blessed conclusion. We are not promised that reaching that conclusion will be easy or without pain. But we are promised that God is working with us and that God is working now to bring us to happiness. This is what we believe.
It is, however, easy to doubt. When we look at the violence that affects so many places in our world, when we look at the dysfunction and rancor in Washington, when we hear of people who must struggle with sickness and loss, it is easy for us to say, “Does God really intend to save us? Has God forgotten the promise to bring us to life?” It is easy to doubt. That is why we need one another. That is why we need to gather as we do each weekend to be in this place. Here, by our words and presence we assert to one another: Yes, it is true. Yes, God is in charge. Yes, God is for us. And if today is difficult and if tomorrow looks fearful, we still believe that in the end God’s love will be victorious.
So the challenge is to hold to the hope of a glorious ending. If today you are still looking for a job, if today your life is shattered by the upheaval of divorce, if today you say “I cannot spend another day fighting this cancer or grieving the person that I love,” then stand with us and believe that today is not the last day. God has another card to play and God fully intends to win over all the evil that attacks us. Hold on in hope. We know where we are going. We know that in God’s presence there will be happiness and peace. Hold on. It is the ending that counts.