Confession:: If I walk into a room where I just saw someone and they're no longer there, I will make a rapture joke. It's as involuntary as breathing or having my heart beat.
Growing up it wasn't uncommon to see "In Case of Rapture This Car Will be Unmanned" bumper stickers and to see copies of the Left Behind book series in homes. Images of piles of clothes on the ground from a rapture are locked in my brain from TV, movies or book illustrations (which begs some questions. Do we keep jewelry but not clothing? What about fillings? What's the policy on dental work staying or going?).
This obsession about the end of the world has created a complicated relationship with the Bible. We've been taught that when we read apocalyptic passages in the Bible (which is a literary form common to the ancient world) they are really clues for how the world is going to end. If we interpret the clues correctly than we will have a marked advantage over every other human being when the world really does come to the end. The Bible becomes less of a text about the heart of God and humanity, and more of a book of riddles to be solved (ie: Revelation)
In our series on Mark we reach chapter 13, which is very much apocalyptic literature. We're going to look at the cultural impact of interpreting these writings as a rapture event, walk through the history of rapture-esque readings of the Bible (hint:: not as ancient as you might expect) and what these passages could really be talking about.