While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”(Luke 21:5-11)
The words of Jesus were startling to those around him. The temple of Jerusalem was not only immense and not only breathtaking in its opulence but it stood as a reminder of their relationship with God. The destruction of the Temple foretold change that was soul shattering and humans have an issue with change.
Then came 2020 and the pandemic exposed fissures in our society that were deep, ominous and life threatening. Change, not as we like it, was imposed upon us. Change, not as we like it, magnified the inequalities in our society. Change, not as we like it, shook at the fabric of our family life – sometimes through disease, sometimes through the body politic. The temples of our lives seemed destined to tumble and perhaps be destroyed.
When Jesus foretold how difficult their lives were going to be, it was as if he was telling us of the effect of the changes upon us. The people who first heard this story were afraid. Jesus doesn’t sidestep their fear, and he doesn’t fan it. He tells them the truth. You will be arrested. You will be persecuted. This is a time of trial in every sense of the word. And your job is this: testify, stand up, step up, speak out. Remember who you are and proclaim it. You are equipped for these times with wisdom and endurance and ultimately grace-you will gain your souls. And you will not be alone.
In Luke 21:15-19, Jesus assures his listeners and disciples: “For I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair on your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls” (Luke 21:15-19).
He was assuring and strengthening them and us by saying, “I’ve set my table right in the midst of all of this. It’s in these places of fear and loss and confusion and pain that I set my table and I am a guest among you.”
In power and poverty and privilege and in pain, even as we endure persecution and the pain and complexity of our modern world, these are the places where Jesus sets his table, where he grants us the words and wisdom of a Kingdom vision, that welcomes our neighbors and even our enemies–where Jesus comes to be our welcomed guest.
God extends grace and mercy to all who will heed his call and his warning. Do not pass up, even for one day, God’s invitation of grace and mercy to seek first his kingdom of righteousness and peace. This day may be our only chance before that final day comes.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, your grace and mercy abounds even in the midst of trails and difficulties. Help me to seek your kingdom first and to reject whatever would hinder me from pursuing your way of righteousness and holiness. Fill me with the joy and hope of your everlasting kingdom.”
Today we hear our Lord tell us that the Kingdom of God is near, and it’s coming with all its fullness. But until that moment comes, I think our Lord is more interested in having us see the significant signs to be seen here on earth, than the signs to be seen in the heavens … not the signs in the sun and the moon and the stars, but signs in you and me and all of us. We are not so much called to see the signs, but rather to be signs … signs of God’s kingdom in the here and now.