Thursday, December 23, 2004

A Wing and a Prayer

A friend of mine ordered me the first season of The West Wing on DVD for Christmas and Amazon were so efficient that it arrived at my house a few days ago. Unfortunately I was expecting a delivery so I opened it and it wasn't gift wrapped (despite his specification that it should be!) so I figured I could start watching them!

I love the The West Wing but I only picked up on this during the second season. So currently I am exploring the joys of the undiscovered territory of a series I've not watched. Right now I'm watching the Christmas episode which is rather pleasing but last night I caught an episode in which Josh (the deputy chief of staff) is given a card with instructions as to what to do in the event of a White House evacuation to Air Force One during a Major Incident such as a nuclear attack.

Josh's first question really showed the depth of care in this guy. He said "So do I let my staff know where to go or do they have their own cards?" The blank look from the NSA man said it all and Josh slowly realised that his staff would not be joining him, that he would leave them behind. In his angst he breaks all protocol and speaks to his colleague Sam to ask him how he had reacted when he was given the card. Unfortunately Sam's response is one of bewilderment. He has no card. Josh is forced to recover the situation whilst realising that yet another friend is not one of the elect.

This made me think about the idea of the Rapture.

I've had occasion to discuss the concept of the rapture with some of my friends from my theology course and with other colleagues. Sometimes these discussions have been rather flippant and light-hearted including jokes when a handful of us have been waiting for the others and wondered whether they have all been "taken up" and at other times the discussions have been a little more serious and debated what we actually think about the whole idea of atonement, the afterlife and what happens at the end of the world.

The idea that a few elect will be taken up when others are left behind is something I find difficult to reconcile with the God whose love I feel with me at all times. Human parents almost invariably find it impossible to be angry with their children forever no matter what they've done and I think God LOVES us more than any human parent loves their child. I can't imagine the idea of a loving God leaving people behind. That's not even considering the repurcussions for families and friends of some being taken and some being left.

Josh's reaction for me exemplifies the reaction I would expect of anyone who would be worthy of being of "the elect". He hands back the card. He says that if there is going to be a disaster he wants to be with his friends, with his family, with the people that he loves. He doesn't want to be saved without them. This is not the petulance of a child saying he doesn't want to go if his friends aren't going. This is a deep and true expression of love. The self-sacrificing love which God shows us and which God calls each of us to offer to Him and to each other.

"For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it."

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