The iconic 80s alt-rock band, R.E.M. released a song in 1987 titled "It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)" that was an instant hit and has stayed in rotation on radio stations and jukeboxes ever since – which is a little weird, since the lyrics make absolutely no sense at all. Apocalyptic literature, stories about the end of the world, often manages to be terrifying and nonsensical at the same time.
We’ve all read novels and seen movies about the end of the world that focus on violence and destruction – but that’s not the word we hear from scripture. In this Sunday’s readings we hear from Daniel, "there shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered." And Jesus says, "nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs."
It is always the end of the world as we know it, because the world is always becoming – always being born into a new way of being. But stories (and songs) aren’t supposed to terrify us about the endings in our lives, they’re meant to reassure us that, in God’s hands, we will all be fine.