Week Seventeen Summary and Practice
Sunday, April 25—Friday, April 30, 2021
Apocalyptic literature helps us make room for something new by clearing out the old—old ideas, old stories, old ways of thinking, especially if we’ve become overly attached to them.
Apocalyptic literature is not meant to strike fear in us as much as a radical rearrangement. It’s not the end of the world. It’s the end of worlds—our worlds that we have created.
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Through apocalyptic literature, the Scripture writers were finding a language and set of metaphors that would stir the power of the imagination and shake the unconscious.
Jesus’ use of apocalyptic language is his way of showing that everything is passing away. God puts us in a world of passing things where everything changes, and nothing remains the same.
For people who face situations like [apartheid in South Africa], the Apocalypse is an exciting, inspiring, and marvelous book. It is a book which, in our sociopolitical situation, is a constant call for conversion and change. —Allan Boesak
Lingering in Nature
Most Christian denominations made the Gospel into what CAC teacher and friend Brian McLaren describes as “an evacuation plan for the next world,” which does not allow us to take the incarnation seriously. The Word became flesh in this world, said yes to this world, to this planet, to this earth, to physicality and sexuality, and to materiality itself! It’s all very good, according to God in Genesis 1. But most people’s association with Apocalypse is to escape this world—not to renew it. For me, the high point of the book of Revelation is in 11:15, when John writes, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ and he shall reign forever and ever.” This is not an evacuation plan for the next world—it is a promise of a new heaven and new earth for this world! 
The following practice is adapted from my latest book Every Thing Is Sacred, written with my friend Patrick Boland. In this book, Patrick and I create practices and reflections based on selections from The Universal Christ.
In the 1830s Nelson Darby first taught that a rapture would take place, where Christians would be bodily taken up to the clouds to meet the Lord at the Second Coming of Christ. As this view of the world evolved, it shifted the emphasis from the beauty of the first Incarnation to something entirely different. “Sadly,” Fr. Richard writes, “we have a whole section of Christianity that is looking for—even praying for—an exit from God’s ongoing creation toward some kind of Armageddon or Rapture. Talk about missing the point!”
How influenced are we by this idea of escape? How conscious are we of this narrative that tells us our beautiful biosphere, this first Incarnation, is essentially fallen—beyond repair and in need of version 2.0? Perhaps this has affected our attitude toward the earth’s resources, where our behavior displays where our true values lie. Fr. Richard writes:
Without a sense of the inherent sacredness of the world—of every tiny bit of life and death—we struggle to see God in our own reality, let alone to respect reality, protect it, or love it. The consequences of this ignorance are all around us, seen in the way we have exploited and damaged our fellow human beings, the dear animals, the web of growing things, the land, the waters, and the very air.
What difference would it make to the quality of our lives if we lingered more in nature? We invite you to spend some time reconnecting to the wild and alive Earth, and practice experiencing the sacredness of the first Incarnation.
Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.
- At some point during your time in nature, quiet your body and pay attention to the beauty, the complexity, and the sacredness of this landscape and any animals with which you share this space.
- Reflect on how God is revealed to you through this first Incarnation. Journal or draw what this evokes within you.
In the words of St. Francis, Fr. Richard’s spiritual father, “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”
 Richard Rohr, In the Footsteps of St. Paul, disc 1 (Franciscan Media: 2015), CD.
Adapted from Richard Rohr with Patrick Boland, Every Thing Is Sacred: 40 Practices and Reflections on the Universal Christ (Convergent: 2021), 36, 37, 39; and
The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe (Convergent: 2021, 2019), 20, 18.