Thursday, December 1st. Luke 21:5-19

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.”

 

“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.”  Luke 21:5-19

 

We live in the United States where our lives are so dominated by the media that we become like fish who no longer notice the water.  Fueled by the quest for market share and advertising dollars, television, radio and print media outlets tell us each day what we need to care about, what we need to worry about, and what we need to be afraid of. 

 

We jump from story to story to story…and then we move on.

 

Meanwhile, the after-effects of the tsunami in Japan and the earthquake in Haiti remain daily challenges long after the media moved on to the next “big” story. When natural disasters fade, we can always go back to character assassination of political candidates or the disastrous character of Hollywood idols.  Why else would Charlie Sheen have gotten a second of media coverage let alone showing up in a Thursday morning devotion? Sex, murder and mayhem always sells.

 

Edwin Friedmann suggested that we have become a nation of information addicts.  We thrive on being constantly manipulated by the emotional onslaught of voices telling us how “they” are at war with “us”, how stupid or greedy or evil “they” are and how much better “we” would be without “them.”

 

So it is that we hear Jesus talking about wars, insurrections, earthquakes, plagues, and famines and we find ourselves thinking, “So what is so new about any of that?  They are always present, in every age, somewhere in the world.”  Yes they are.

 

The question is:  How does God invite us to live in the face of all of this? This is never an easy question but perhaps always the key question.

 

Jesus tells us, “So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.”  Implicit in that is a reminder to trust God, rather than self, in the face of anything.  It might even be helpful if people are open to rational conversation and the free exchange of ideas.

 

I read an article this morning in the New York Times about an event that happened this past October 9th.  Hundreds of Egyptian Christians and some Muslims gathered outside the building that houses the state-run Egyptian media to protest the failure to investigate the burning of a Christian church.  By the end of the day, soldiers guarding the building had killed 28 people and left 325 wounded. 

 

Is this the answer?  Perhaps those protesters came to the realization that God was calling them to march that day, to stand up to the authorities and challenge them to do their jobs, rather than quietly justifying their failure to act by remaining silent.  Perhaps the soldiers firing their guns felt called to do so in defense of God and country.  All we know for sure is that further conversation on the matter is no longer an option for 28 people.

 

The world is a broken place.  The whole creation, says the Apostle Paul, is groaning in travail, waiting for redemption, waiting for release, waiting for salvation.

 

Advent waiting.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Jesus, we live in the dangerous, chaotic times that you warned about because all people live in such times.  What we need from you is guidance and direction.  Help us know the next right thing in our lives and give us the courage to do it. We want to be part of the solution.  So we pray this morning for all those who work for peace, for breaking down dividing walls, for freedom and for enough for all.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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One Response to “Thursday, December 1st. Luke 21:5-19”

  1. Mary Says:

    Amen.

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