Thursday, November 10th. Luke 21:29-36

Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”  Luke 21:29-36


It is funny, but I think very significant, how little events, little one-liners, stick in our minds.  Out of the flurry of life’s experiences, only a few really land and then come back, again and again, as we take our next steps.


One of those lines comes from a sermon given by Pastor Don Carlson, my senior pastor in my first call.  The line, it might even have been the title of the sermon, was “What have you done for me lately?”  What drove that point home was his comment that he (and I’ve since proven this true by my own experience) was amazed by the number of people whose grandfathers “built this church.”


As in, simply, “My grandfather built this church.”  And normally this sentence comes couched in a longer paragraph describing how we grew up in this church but then yadda yadda yadda, we haven’t darkened the doors since yadda yadda yadda happened.


Thus God asks the haunting question, “What have you done for me lately?”


A few years ago I joined a pilgrimage to Israel.  The plan included each of the pastors on the trip taking turns creating daily worship experiences for the places we would visit.  My turn came in the Garden of Gethsemane.  I remember the twisted gnarly olive trees enclosed by an impregnable fence, but I was surprised by the image it impressed in my mind.


I expected to see Jesus, on his knees in agony, praying fervently, his humanity dreading the terrors awaiting him on the other side of the valley.  That image was clearly there but the real surprise was seeing the disciples, sleeping in exhausted contentment, blissfully unaware of Jesus’ pain.


Not once but three times in Mark’s telling of the story, Jesus walks back to the disciples and shakes them awake.  Luke softens the memory, saying that the disciples were overcome by grief and thus slept, but the point remains.  In his hour of deepest need, Jesus’ best friends slept through the first part and ran away from the rest.


What have you done for me lately?


“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap.”


The Christian faith leans into the future but it is very focused on today.  Yesterday teaches us its lessons.  Yesterday returns again and again until we learn them and move on.  But the prayer of our faith is rooted in give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.


We live the faith well when we live expectantly – when we remember both that today might be our last day and that someday we might be someone’s grandfather or grandmother.  And what will our grandchildren say about us?


Let us pray:  Dear Lord, thank you for today.  Another day of life, another opportunity to enjoy, to serve, to celebrate, to work, to love.  Help us make the most of this day.  Plant the seeds of eager expectant faith in our lives and use us, that our lives might bear fruit for your Kingdom.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


4 Responses to “Thursday, November 10th. Luke 21:29-36”

  1. Randy Nelson Says:

    True. Grandparents were using their hands in the present to glorify God. As a single old coot, “And what will our grandchildren say about us?”, somewhat misses the mark for me. Cemeteries are silent, reverent places. Legacies remain for our loved one’s but in the present life, working to glorify God with one’s hand is for the generations in the future & their glorification of God with their hands. Warm & fuzzy feelings (for me) about the past generations might trump present hands working for the glorification of God for future generations.

  2. Janis Frnka Says:

    As my term as Social Ministries’ chair is coming to a close, I have found myself relieved, thinking something along the lines of, “Whew. Glad that’s over with. Let someone else carry on with this ministry; I’ll just continue with Gethsemane Food Pantry service and call it enough.” Now, you have once more challenged me, quoting one of my favorite expressions: “What have you done for ME lately?”, (which I first encountered as the punchline of an old Eddie Murphy stand up-routine, and have often referred to since). In the context of this Daily Devotion, however, I realize that what I should be thinking is, “Okay, Lord, what can I do next?” Thank you.

  3. Leatrice Says:

    It’s much easier to untserdand when you put it that way!

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