“But you, Daniel, keep the words secret and the book sealed until the time of the end…[g]o your way, Daniel, for the words are to remain secret and sealed until the time of the end.”
The community is inundated about once a year with newspaper ads, television spots, mass mailings and door hangers promoting the ONE DAY ONLY appearance of some world famous expert on prophecy who will unlock the secrets and unveil the meaning for us in our day in order that we might be prepared for That Day, which is upon us. The book of Daniel will be a prominent feature of the talk.
It is blatant carnival hucksterism, but it works. The room will be packed and the people mesmerized. The out of town preacher will stitch together a very believable and apparently logical story. He will do it with energy, flourishes, a backup band, terrific terrifying slides, and an altar call.
Some local clergy will seize on the momentary outflowing of emotional turmoil over the imminence of the Last Judgment to beef up worship service attendance as well as, perhaps, tithing. Others will be confronted by a few parishioners wanting to know if maybe this guy really does know what he’s talking about, and why have they never heard that sort of truth telling from their own pulpit.
In a few weeks he will have been all but forgotten but for a core of true believers who will already be working on next year’s performance. It’s not a bad thing. Among those who pay any attention at all will be some who want to know more about God and Jesus, about faith and atonement, and about what this Last Day stuff is all about. They may not go to the nearest church to seek out the clergy, but they will ask their questions at coffee, over a beer or in a conversation with friends. Will they encounter well formed and well informed “ministers” among the baptized when they ask those questions? I hope so.
Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. (BCP)