I've been a Seventh-day Adventist since birth--and I've been a baptized member for nine of my 22 years. For all those years I've heard my pastors, teachers, and parents say "Jesus is coming again!" or "Jesus is coming soon!"
I've sung all the songs, watched the lectures, taken the classes, and visited all the Adventist Historical sites. I am the perfect, stereotypical Adventist. The date October 22 has always had an ominous ring to it, though nothing bad has ever happened to me on it.
Then today in my Old Testament Studies class, I was given a new way to look at this date. October 22nd wasn't the Great Disappointment, as all of us in the church call it. It was the Great Anticipation. Our ancestors believed that Jesus was going to come back to earth, to take them out of this sin sick world.
October 23rd was the day of disappointment. When the clock stuck midnight on that cold morning the hopes of many were crushed. Hiram Edson said, "We wept and wept until the day dawn." Many of these early Adventists left the movement. They had been disappointed several times earlier, and this was the final straw.
But the reason I know that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is on a mission sent from God is this: we still exist. We shouldn't. Everyone should have given up after October 22, 1844, but they didn't. In December of 1844 William Miller wrote in the Midnight Cry, "I have set my mind on another time, and here I mean to stand until God gives me more light. And that [the time God gives me more light] is today, Today, and TODAY until He comes."
In the days surrounding the Disappointment God's truth was given to many, and shared with all who would listen. They had the right day, but the wrong event. Jesus wasn't supposed to come to earth that day, but instead was to enter the Most Holy Place in Heaven to act as our Lawyer.
F. E. Beldon's song says it best:
We know not the hour of the Master's appearing;
But signs all foretell that the moment is nearing
When He shall return--'tis the promise most cheering--
But we know not the hour.
He will come, [He will come]
Let us watch and be ready
He will come, [He will come]d
He will come in the clouds of His Father's bright glory
But we know not the hour.
We don't know when Christ will return, but that doesn't matter. We know THAT He will come, and that's all that matters.
Father, we know that Your Son has promised to come back to this earth to take us to Heaven to live with You there. May that coming be soon, but more importantly, may we be ready for His coming. This is my prayer for all those who read this. I pray this in the name of Jesus--He who came to earth, died as a the substitution for our death penalty, rose again on the third day, and is now in Heaven as our advocate. Amen.
Date: Friday, June 20, 2014
Time: 8:45 pm local time/2:45 pm EST
Place: Bern, Switzerland
I’m exhausted again, though maybe not as bone-weary was I was this time last night. We had to leave our hotel by 7:45 this morning, and breakfast began at 6:30. Joel and I thought that it would be good to wake up by about six so we could get showers before heading to breakfast before it got too full.
I set the alarm on my phone for six o’clock, but kept waking up to see what time it was. About 11:55 or so I woke up, thinking that my phone hadn’t changed time zones and that it was 6 in the morning (we’re six hours ahead over here). After trying, unsuccessfully, to wake Joel, I grabbed clean clothes and trudged to the shower, leaving the light on which I thought might wake him up slowly.
I went into the bathroom, and while preparing for my shower it dawned on me that I should go check my watch (which I knew was running the right time). So I went back to the room and checked it, and lo and behold it was just about midnight. I’m so glad that I didn’t take the shower at that point, because I would never have fallen asleep.
Joel and I went down to breakfast a few minutes past 6:30 and were soon joined by Kathy Goddard. It was a very European breakfast: fresh croissants, corn flakes without milk but with yogurt, and I had some mint tea, too. Quite yummy, but not quite filling (or at least) not filling for any amount of time.
After breakfast and packing up essentials (like an umbrella) for the day, we walked a few minutes (maybe 5-7) to a park by the Swiss Parliament. We had a brief worship talk from Dr. Wohlers. He read Psalm 117 to us, and then we had a quick prayer.
After worship Dr. Diller took the floor and lectured to us about the history of Switzerland, its people, and their culture.
If you look at a map of Switzerland you can see tall mountains and deep valleys, which has led them to being very isolated culturally, even from themselves. That isolation has even gone so far as to make their Swiss German language sound like a much more like Old German, and it’s difficult for a non-Swiss to learn Swiss German because there isn’t really a standard language. It’s even different enough between two towns 20 miles away that you can tell where people are from. The Swiss didn’t have before 1848 the Swiss really had no sort of allegiance to Switzerland, but to their canton. A canton is not quite a city state, but not quite a county either. A fairly small region that shared a common language and customs.
Switzerland was the home of the Neanderthals (whatever we believe they actually were), and in more modern history it was the home of the Celts. Once Rome fell and became the various tribes, the tribes native to Switzerland were the Alemanni and the Helvetii, from which the Swiss get their official name, the Confoederatio Helvetica.
This area was quite Christian by the year 200, but paganism had set in by around 500 when it needed to be reconverted by Celtic Christian missionaries. At some point I will try to write a post about the “White Martyrdom,” which really doesn’t have anything to do with Switzerland, but it also does. Google it for more information until I get around to it.
I talked yesterday about Grossmünster Cathedral in Zurich. Dr. Diller told us today that on the side of the church is a statue of Charlemagne who was the Holy Roman Emperor who sent missionaries to the area in the 700s. Those missionaries founded the church that would eventually move into the Grossmünster.
The Swiss Reformation began c. 1523, less than a decade after Luther’s 95 Theses were nailed to the Schlosskirche (Castle Church) in Wittenberg. The two names most important in the Swiss Reformation are John Calvin (who focused his energies in Geneva) and Huldrych Zwingli who was stationed in Zurich’s Grossmünster church.
There was no concept of Separation of Church and State during the Reformation, because it was thanks to the Holy Roman Princes that the Reformation was able to happen as effectively as it did. They allowed the publication of anti-Roman writings and protected the Reformers from the Church.
It is hard for us living in these modern times to not look at the Princes’ involvement with the Reformation as anything but political, but Dr. Diller pointed out that it probably was, at least for the most part, a deep desire to follow the Bible.
A generation or two after the Protestant reformation died down in Switzerland, the individual cantons were in a position where they could individually decide to accept Protestantism or Catholicism, and it depended on the region. It was about this time, however, when the Anabaptists (those who believed that baptism should be an adult decision and therefore were re-baptized as adults) were beginning to rise.
These newcomers to the religious scene were dangerous to the fabric of the society. Up to that point, the main point of government was to raise money so they could go to war to get more land. The Anabaptists, however, were pacifists. In reality they weren’t even really citizens. In those days (the mid-to-late 1500s or so), birth and death records weren’t kept by the state. They were kept by the church. Your birth certificate was really your baptismal certificate. (This was true even with Bach in 1685 and Beethoven in 1770). If you weren’t baptized as a baby, you weren’t on any sort of books until you were baptized as an adult (not even a teenager).
These strange new beliefs worried both the Protestants and Catholics, so they both began to persecute the Anabaptists. The center of this persecution was Bern. Eventually those Anabaptists who survived moved out of the area, many coming to Pennsylvania, eventually becoming the Amish or Mennonites.
Switzerland was captured by Napoleon for a short time during the Napoleonic Wars (which were fought from the late 1700s through somewhere before 1820. After these wars were over the Council of Vienna met to re-sort Europe, reestablishing earlier borders. At this time the countries began to modernize their governments. The Swiss had problems, however, because they never had any particularly strong ties to a central government. Instead, they were loyal to their canton. In 1848 these cantons formed the Helvetic Confederation, which is basically the Switzerland we know now.
In the late nineteenth century Switzerland decided that it should build up its infrastructure to allow for people to take their vacations here (which they already did).
The country decided to stay neutral in World War I and II, though it was quite difficult to do so in WWII because they were completely surrounded by the Axis. Their neutrality was accepted by all, though, because they were the financial capital of the world. If a country is going to be invaded, they get as much of their movable capital out of the country and into a Swiss bank account.
Because Switzerland was neutral during the war, however, there was nothing to force the issue of women having the right to vote. In much of the world the idea says that if women are working for the war effort (while their husbands are fighting) they should be allowed to vote. In Switzerland, the right to vote for all women wasn’t accomplished until the 1990s.
After our lesson in the park we walked to the Haputbahnhoff to get on our train to Interlaken, which is a gorgeous part of Switzerland which is situated in the Alps. As we were on our train, we got to enjoy a lot of beautiful scenery, which I tried to take pictures of, but my pictures really don’t do justice to the absolute beauty of the area.
We got off the train at the Interlaken Ost (East) station and bought tickets for a ride up and around some of the Alpine mountains. The views were absolutely breathtaking, but I had a quick thought: It’s a wound. Ellen White explains in pages 107 and 108 of Patriarchs and Prophets:
"The entire surface of the earth was changed at the Flood. A third dreadful curse rested upon it in consequence of sin. As the water began to subside, the hills and mountains were surrounded by a vast, turbid sea, Everywhere were strewn the dead bodies of men and beasts. The Lord would not permit these to remain to decompose and pollute the air, therefore He made of the earth a vast burial ground. A violent wind which was caused to blow for the purpose of drying up the waters, moved them with great force, in some instances even carrying away the tops of the mountains and heaping up trees, rocks, and earth above the bodies of the dead. By the same means the silver and gold, the choice wood and precious stones, which had enriched and adorned the world before the Flood, and which the inhabitants had idolized, were concealed from the sight and search of men, the violent action of the waters piling earth and rocks upon these treasures, and in some cases even forming mountains above them. God saw that the more He enriched and prospered sinful men, the more they would corrupt their ways before Him. The treasures that should have led them to glorify the bountiful Giver had been worshiped, while God had been dishonored and despised.
The earth presented an appearance of confusion and desolation impossible to describe. The mountains, once so beautiful in their perfect symmetry, had become broken and irregular. Stones, ledges, and ragged rocks were now scattered upon the surface of the earth. In many places hills and mountains had disappeared, leaving no trace where they once stood; and plains had given place to mountain ranges. These changes were more marked in some places than in others. Where once had been earth's richest treasures of gold, silver, and precious stones, were seen the heaviest marks of the curse. And upon countries that were not inhabited, and those where there had been the least crime, the curse rested more lightly."
I didn’t rest on this idea for long, but I was reminded again how beautiful heaven will be if one of the most beautiful spots on earth is a wound upon the earth.
The majority of our day was spent riding trains all around the Interlaken area, enjoying the scenery, some pictures of which I’ll put on Facebook.
There was a castle we wanted to see, but it was schedule to close at 5 o’clock. Dr. Laughlin went and asked about it, and said that if we wanted even a chance to see it we had to get on the 4 o’clock train from Interlaken back toward Bern. We were to stop at the town of Thun (pronounced tune). We got off the train at about 4:35 and walked very, very quickly up the mountain to the castle.
As we rounded each new corner to find yet another new corner, I was sweating buckets and sure that I would die right then and there, without even reaching the castle. We got there at 4:55, but it was already closed. They were celebrating their 750th anniversary (which is an amazingly long time, come to think about it), and had closed to decorate for a party sometime this weekend. All that way, all those pounds washed away, and for nothing.
We walked (a shorter, much more direct way) back down to the main town of Thun, looking for food. It took us probably another 30 minutes before settling on an Italian restaurant. Mrs. Goddard and I shared a mushroom pizza (which I picked the mushrooms off of), and we chatted around the table for probably most of an hour.
Earlier on in the day we had been discussing the four personality types (Sanguine, Melancholy, Choleric, and Phlegmatic). I couldn’t quite get them figured out, but Mrs. Goddard was helping me by giving me mnemonic her husband used. A man is sitting on a bench, with his hat next to him. Someone comes and sits down on his hat. The Sanguine laughs, the Melancholy cries, the Choleric hollers, and the Phlegmatic puts his hat on and walks away.
After we finished eating we walked to the train station so that we could get back to our hotel and ask our receptionist/concierge where to find Apfelstrudel mit vanillesauce. We got to the station within a few minutes of getting on a train heading toward Bern. This train was of a different brand, however, and before our first stop Joel discovered that this brand wasn’t on our Eurorail pass. We got off at the next stop, which, it turned out, was not served by any other line. Our options were to get back on the next train heading to Thun, or get back on heading toward Bern.
During this time we discovered that (we think) we were allowed to be on that train, so we decided to take the next train to Bern. During that time we chatted some more, Mrs. Goddard posing the question how would each of the personality types respond to this afternoons misadventures (missing the castle, getting on the wrong train, etc.), and that is where my title comes from. The Choleric would have yelled about it, the Melancholy would have broken down into tears, the Sanguine would have laughed, and the Phlegmatic would shrug his shoulders and wait patiently.
The train finally came to get us, and we made our return trip to Bern, though we arrived at a different place. I would have been completely lost, but Joel and Kaiti knew exactly where we were going. They got us back to the hotel in one piece, but when we got there we found out that there were no restaurants open to sell Apfelstrudel.
I’m back in the room now, and ready for bed. It’s almost 10:30, so good night.
Love to all!
My walking estimate is a minimum of 3 miles today. I started a hunt for a pedometer today, but without luck.
The Advent movement should never have lasted. William Miller was wrong. He was wrong in 1843 and he was wrong again in 1844. All of his followers should have given up and lost their faith. So why didn't they?
The only reason I can give is that they felt God's leading. Even though their hearts kept being broken, they knew that He was leading them. The Adventist church has a mission: to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, His Heavenly Ministry and His Soon Return. But we weren't given a mission without something to strengthen us. We were given a rich history of God's care and leading.
About a week ago I had the chance to present an Evensong program at the Collegedale SDA church. We closed the Sabbath by reviewing some of the ways that the Holy Spirit has led our church.
We didn't just hear stories, though. We sang. Music is a language unto itself. It can say what a sermon simply can't. So we sang. And the congregation sang. One thing I dislike is how we don't encourage everyone to open their hymnals. But I made them. And they sang. Well.
We have a past, we have hope and a future! No matter how bad our life may (and will) get, we have proof from our history that God cares and that he will provide for us. Always!
I had the chance to go up to the sites of our Adventist heritage this past weekend and kept a journal. I'll share portions of it in the next few days.
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.