Thursday, June 28th. Mark 13:1-8

As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

 

When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs. Mark 13:1-8

 

Today’s devotion will be the last for awhile as I head off into two weeks of summer vacation.  This morning I’m feeling the accumulated stress that builds as you try to cover all the bases, knowing that you’ll be leaving the stadium in good hands but leaving nonetheless.

In our walk through the gospel of Mark we now reach the 13th chapter.  This chapter is Mark’s mini-apocalypse.  This chapter is presented as private information shared only with some of the disciples – Peter, James, John, and Andrew.  The feeling of “private”, “insider”, information is a common element of apocalyptic writing.  So too is the “future tense” of the narrative.  Apocalyptic writing comes across as predicting the future when what it really does is offer hope and explanation in the midst of, and in the memories of, times of turbulence, testing, and trial.

Scholars agree that Mark was written during or shortly after the horrors of the Jewish uprising in Jerusalem from 67-70 CE.  The Jewish/Christian world was rocked by Rome’s crushing force that included the utter destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the end of a long chapter in Jewish faith.

And yet, even as Mark’s narrative is set within a particular historical context, the language continues to speak powerfully to us today.  We still have our edifice complexes as we marvel at the seemingly indestructible large stone buildings that rise among us.  Here in Houston, the Astrodome, the 8th Wonder of the World, sits empty, condemned, unusable, and dwarfed by the new stadium right next door.  One day it will be rubble.

Not a day passes in our lives where there isn’t significant evidence of birthpangs in our ever-changing world.  The European economy is in turmoil.  I listen each morning to the reports of political and financial wrangling between once powerful countries seeking to work together rather than dominate one another.  The bigger they are, the harder…

Wild fires are raging in Colorado and the western United States.  When you hear reports that 30,000 people are being evacuated, you know there are serious fires burning.  Last year we saw the worst wild fires in recorded Texas history.  Now those conditions exist all along the Rocky ridge.

We were talking about those fires last night in Bible study and a woman, whose daughter lives near Colorado Springs, said, “What is so horrible about all of that is how absolutely powerless you feel.”

Yes.  We are far more powerless than we like to admit.  We live our lives caught up in forces that are far beyond our control.  We live with a never ending list of “little messiahs” who promise us they will fix all of our problems if we just elect them to office, buy their products, design their technology, or attend their seminar.  All….rubble.

Yet there is another voice.  A still small voice that overpowers the wind and the mighty storm.  This Voice tells us that the darkest night cannot quench the smallest candle.  It speaks words of hope, guides our feet down paths of peace, and reminds of the power of love.  It is a Voice reminding us that confessing our powerlessness is the first step toward wholeness.

Keep awake.  Keep watch.

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, all times are good times and bad times.  As life crashes among us, and as we nurture the tiny glimmers of hope around us, we pray for a constant sense of your presence, power, and provision.  Draw near to those who suffer, those who seek to be helpful, and those given weighty responsibility.  Help us rest our faith on the solid foundations of your love, shown forth in the communities that gather in your name, rather than the shifting sands of the gods who are no gods.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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5 Responses to “Thursday, June 28th. Mark 13:1-8”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I love your devotions and will miss them while you vacation. Have a wonderful time. Karen Shea

  2. Joyce Says:

    Have a restful vacation!! I will be waiting patiently for your return.

  3. Gloria Smith-Rockhold Says:

    Peace. Be still. Enjoy and rest.

    Gloria

  4. Ron Says:

    So thankful for your daily devotions and thoughts! Enjoy a well deserved time away.

  5. Gene Says:

    “Yes. We are far more powerless than we like to admit…confessing our powerlessness is the first step toward wholeness.”
    I believe that this statement encompasses one the greatest shortcomings in most orthodox churches in America today. We do not teach or preach the power of God. We forget His might, focusing only on the ‘warm and fuzzy’. This is a very small box for such an awesome God.

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