In my early days I first became familiar with “cliffhangers” watching Batman on cable TV. Each episode ended up with a little teaser that would entice you to watch the next episode: “Will Batman and the Boy Wonder escape the clutches of this perilous Penguin and his pilfering band of plundering prowlers? Tune into our next episode to find out!” As a kid I loved these well-spun phrases filled with rhymes and alliteration. My friends and I would quote them and laugh and act them out.
The cliffhanger is a well-worn staple of the world of storytelling in print, on TV, and in the movies. It is intended to keep us interested and bring us back again and again, guessing what will happen next. Back in the days of the original Batman series, we would have to wait a full week before we could see the conclusion. It was exciting and sometimes excruciating for a 6 year old kid to have to wait that long.
Now in the world of streaming and Netflix, we rarely have to wait for a cliffhanger. We simply binge the entire series or wait until it is all out before we start watching at all. We can avoid the long wait for a cliffhanger to be resolved. They still hook us in, but we have become accustomed to instant gratification. Waiting is no longer the issue – or perhaps character building tool – it once was. You needed patience to be a fan back in the day. Now, you need not wait. You can buy the series or pay for the streaming service. It’s all so convenient, but I think something is lost.
So what’s my point? Here it goes. I think life is filled with cliffhangers too. The problem is that we can’t binge our lives or fast forward what’s ahead to see how it’s all going to turn out. This pandemic has put a lot of “normal life” on hold. We are living a cliffhanger. What is God doing in the midst of this politically, medically, ethically, economically, and emotionally messy world? In many ways the last two years have not turned out like we thought they would. Now we look ahead wondering what the next several years will bring. Will we get out of this? Will we ever see normal again? What do faithfulness and love look like in this new landscape? One thing I believe is that God says “Stay tuned!” Don’t give up on hope and trusting the Lord.
This month we are working through the Gospel of Mark in our sermon series. Mark masterfully crafts his message to show us that the first followers of Jesus thought they knew what it meant for Jesus to be Messiah. They were wrong. In the end what God had in mind brought them to experience terrible tragedy and ended in amazing victory, making salvation and grace available to all. The cliffhanger of the cross was answered with the amazing gift of the resurrection. May this Gospel message encourage us to trust that God is still God. He is still working. Even though we may not see how, let’s encourage each other to stay tuned!