November 16, 2003

Mark 13:1-8

As he walked away from the Temple, one of his disciples said, "Teacher, look at that stonework! Those buildings!"

Jesus said, "You're impressed by this grandiose architecture? There's not a stone in the whole works that is not going to end up in a heap of rubble."

Later, as he was sitting on Mount Olives in full view of the Temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew got him off by himself and asked, "Tell us, when is this going to happen? What sign will we get that things are coming to a head?"

Jesus began, "Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, 'I'm the One.' They will deceive a lot of people. When you hear of wars and' rumored wars, keep your head and don't panic. This is routine history, and no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation -- and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. But these things are nothing compared to what's coming."

[The Message]


1. Have you tried to leave your temple only to look back and see how grand it was and be drawn back? Our experiences keep us looking at the past and the present. They block our imagination that can see how even grand tetons can weather and wear and fade. It appears that such devolution is beyond having an effect on us and so we ignore it. So we do with global warming. So we do with the communal consequence of both individual and communal violence. As long as we are alright for the moment and can focus on short-term security measures we follow Alfred E. Newman's motto, "What, me worry?"

2. This deception is something we participate in. It doesn't even take someone trying to deceive us. We are ready, willing, and able to deceive ourselves, to self-censor ourselves. This is just routine living procedures. Our habits become us. Our fears cocoon us without the hope of a metamorphosis. This is not the sign of the end, but can be seen as a moment of beginning again. To admit we have deceived ourselves is a great first step. This inaugurates a new heaven and a new earth and a new me and a new you and a new us.

3. We wonder how long we can put off waking up and saying, "No," to business as usual, to grand temples of commerce or spirituality, to self-deceit. Well, basically, that can be done just as long as we want to. So how long do you want to?