Thursday of Pentecost 25 – I Thessalonians 5:1-11

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Did you eat breakfast cereal this morning? Did you know the connection breakfast cereal has to this passage? In the 1830’s a Baptist farmer named William Miller concluded that he had unlocked the puzzle of when Jesus was returning. It would happen in the next decade, specifically on October 22, 1844. He started publicizing this and gathered a tremendous audience of people through his printed pamphlets and articles. As the fateful day approached, many worked themselves into a frenzy, selling property, assembling on hilltops to await the dawning of the day, and radically changing their lives. October 22 came and went. Nothing happened. This has come to be known as “The Great Disappointment.”

Among those who were disappointed was a woman named Ellen White. She claimed to have visions which suggested that Miller was right, but Jesus’ return was spiritual and not visible. She claimed that through Ellen He would declare his will for the new age. You probably know some of Ellen’s spiritual heirs, they are the Seventh Day Adventists today. According to Ellen we are to worship on Saturdays. She also said that we are to be vegetarians and follow many other rules. Among her eager followers was an enterprising fellow who transformed breakfast with a vegetarian alternative to the ham and eggs most were eating. His name was W. M. Kellogg, the man who brought corn flakes to American breakfast tables.

No one knows the day or hour of the Lord’s return. Many predict the end of the world based on erroneous readings of Scripture as Miller did. Some have pointed to the fact that the first quarter of the 21st century has met many of the criteria for end of the world tribulation: plague, famine, war, even a plague of locusts in Africa. All this means I find myself yearning for Christ to reveal his kingdom and usher in heavenly bliss. That is God’s call to make, however, not mine. He tells me it will surprise me, like a thief in the night. My job right now is to live as a child of that heavenly light which is dawning even now in the waters of my baptism, in the proclamation of the kingdom, in the preaching of forgiveness, and God’s love for His broken world. On that day of Christ’s revealing, the opportunity to love someone into the kingdom will be over. That is my task for today, not to worry about days or times, but to love the sinners he has put into my life with Christ’s love.

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