Read Matthew 24:23-31.
It's debatable whether or not Alanis Morissette really understands the meaning of the word ironic. But it is surely ironic when preachers intent on "the end of the world" ignore the warnings of Jesus himself in the twenty-forth chapter of Matthew (especially in verses 23-24 and 36) and then go on to make predictions about the day and hour that the world will come to an end. One of those preachers was Hal Lindsay, who wrote The Late Great Planet Earth and who was certain that the end of the world was unfolding in the 1980s.
Well, it turns out that the rumors of the end of the world as we know it were greatly exaggerated. We are still here and for that matter, so too is Hal Lindsay, whom I saw on a cable program a year or so ago.
The thing is that every era faces socio-cultural shifts. Some things come to an end. Others are born. This is the nature of human history. There will always be wars and rumors of wars, at least until there is peace on earth and good will to all. This creates easy fodder for those who choose to focus on this part of Jesus' teaching.
In her comments on today's reading, from A Journey With Matthew, Cynthia Briggs Kittredge sums up a wise approach to texts like these for every generation: "Jesus' words undercut claims to interpretive certainty and direct us to acute attention and renewed faithfulness."
Acute attention to our lives and to the world around us. Renewed faithfulness to seek first God's kingdom and God's righteousness. That's good advice in every season of life on this fragile earth, our island home.