November 14, 2004

Luke 21:5-19

 [5] One day people were standing around talking about the Temple, remarking how beautiful it was, the splendor of its stonework and memorial gifts. Jesus said, [6] "All this you're admiring so much -- the time is coming when every stone in that building will end up in a heap of rubble."

 [7] They asked him, "Teacher, when is this going to happen? What clue will we get that it's about to take place?"

 [8] He said, "Watch out for the doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, 'I'm the One,' or, 'The end is near.' Don't fall for any of that. [9] When you hear of wars and uprisings, keep your head and don't panic. This is routine history and no sign of the end."

 [10] He went on, "Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. [11] Huge earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. You'll think at times that the very sky is falling.

 [12] "But before any of this happens, they'll arrest you, hunt you down, and drag you to court and jail. It will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, everyone at your throat because you carry my name. [13] You'll end up on the witness stand, called to testify. [14] Make up your mind right now not to worry about it. [15] I'll give you the words and wisdom that will reduce all your accusers to stammers and stutters.

 [16] "You'll even be turned in by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. Some of you will be killed. [17] There's no telling who will hate you because of me. [18] Even so, every detail of your body and soul -- even the hairs of your head! -- is in my care; nothing of you will be lost. [19] Staying with it--that's what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won't be sorry; you'll be saved.

 [The Message]

 = = = = = = =

 1. And the people stood around remarking how strong the nation was. Oh, sure, there was a cobweb here, an untruth there, but simply on the basis of how strict we are (highest percentage of citizens who are prisoners and how necessary recidivism is because of rights taken and eternal mistrust of) and how lawless we are (assault weapons are the personal security of choice, far outweighing caring for and looking out for one another). Didn't we defeat Iraq in days and won't we finally occupy and pacify them in only a few more short years? Isn't our economy strong enough to take an infinite number of job migrations and still put a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage and parking space?

 And yet Jesus has the effrontery to say, "As for these strengths you think you have, the days will come when your arrogance will be thrown to the ground and you will be seen for the bully you are to your own poor and to those not of your country."

 2. We, of course, would like to know when this shift is going to take place. At our best, we want to know so we can change our ways. At our worst, we want to know so we can get out with all our goodies just in time to take advantage of the situation.

 Jesus lets us know that neither our best nor our worst intentions can redeem this question of "When?". We will either change too slowly, allowing too many people to be hurt in the meantime, or we will scurry about making things worse before they need be.

 3. So, what are we to do without this seemingly vital piece of information? Well, it would seem we are simply to live with a sense of assurance that we are loved beyond all reason, we are loved beyond any experience so far of being loved, and we are loved beyond a question of loveableness. If our families and friends and world can better learn how to be interdependent because they see us trusting that assurance above everything – how wonderful. If our families and friends and world refuse us because of our commitment to interdependence – how wonderful. The issue is not how others treat us, but the basis on which we are going to live.

 Do you want to live in beauty? that will wrinkle. Do you want to live in security? that will kill both bodies and spirits. Do you want to live? then be about that in joy.

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