November 30, 2003

Luke 21:25-36

"It will seem like all hell has broken loose -- sun, moon, stars, earth, sea, in an uproar and everyone all over the world in a panic, the wind knocked out of them by the threat of doom, the powers-that-be quaking.

"And then -- then! -- they'll see the Son of Man welcomed in grand style -- a glorious welcome! When all this starts to happen, up on your feet. Stand tall with your heads high. Help is on the way!"

He told them a story. "Look at a fig tree. Any tree for that matter. When the leaves begin to show, one look tells you that summer is right around the corner. The same here -- when you see these things happen, you know God's kingdom is about here. Don't brush this off: I'm not just saying this for some future generation, but for this one, too -- these things will happen. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won't wear out.

"But be on your guard. Don't let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it's going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. So, whatever you do, don't go to sleep at the switch. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that's coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man."

[The Message]


1. And how sharp is the "edge of your expectation"? This is one of those places where a community is important. We can sharpen our expectations on one another. In some sense this is the purpose of community - support and correction. To receive them is to sharpen our expectation and if our expectations are sharpened, so is that of the community. This is a real win-win situation.

2. A part of the expectation we have is that there will be signs for us to pick up on and opportunities for us to be signs in the world. Both are important. We need to be aware of the deeper meaning of seemingly insignificant events so we don't become callous to the plight of the poor or the malaise of the marginalized. What is the equivalent of a fig tree in your life these days? We need to also know the importance of not hiding the light given to us. As partners with GOD we are willing to risk mercy with the best of them. When was the last time you were conscious about being lifted up in the wilderness for the healing of some?

3. Sharing stories and opportunities is important in coming to ever-larger images of what we are doing with our life. One place you can post things is at a conversation place for the Wisconsin United Methodist Federation for Social Action online dialogue. Come sharpen your expectations, your hope, your joy, your concern, your part in the work of those who follow the way of Jesus.