The day on the church Calendar is the last Sunday of the Church Year, sometimes called Christ the King. The sermon completes our reading through Jesus’ last things sermon from Mark 13. You might call it the distinction between the end of a world, a time of tribulation, and the end of the world, the deliverance of Christ the King. The first of those we should be able to recognize by the “sign of the fig tree.” The last of those, we do not know, but we await that day. For that day is the day the Kingdom comes in its fullness. The Day of our deliverance.
My daughter’s violin school was invited to play with the RIT Orchestra in a Halloween concert today. It was of course very cute to see 30 costumed elementary students with violins playing ‘Go Tell Aunt Rhody’ backed by the RIT students.
But that is not the real point. The conductor, a Dr. Michael Ruhling, gave a great little historical-musical introduction to each piece they played. After the cute kids were off stage, the orchestra turned to two other Halloween-y pieces: Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens and some movements from Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition. His introduction for each commented on a major theme in each. In each the dead/undead/witch/evil builds and is given free reign, but in each it is cut short and more or less immediately goes away. In Saint-Saens the oboe(?) sounds the cocks crow signaling the dawn and the end of the harrowing. In Mussorgsky the witch Baba Yaga is cut off, one movement just ends and moves into the next, which is much grander and was meant to represent the Church bells ringing and the Great Gate of Kiev. Dr. Ruhling said the music was comforting in that the evil builds, but in each only for a short time, and he left that hanging.
He didn’t answer the why. Why does the evil in the music not over-run all? Why does it stop and stop immediately? Its just left hanging why two great pieces of music that get at truth say the same thing. Matt 24:22 – “In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones. (Mat 24:22 NLT)” 1 Cor 15:52 – “It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. (1Co 15:52 NLT)” The tribulation is always cut short. Evil has no power in front of of the risen one. They are allowed to have their day, but never victory.
The true things, the beautiful things like that music, tell a story. We might ignore it or forget it, but it is there. Waiting to be told.