Rev. Debra Jene Collum
November 15, 2015
Mark 13:1-8 from The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
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.
This is routine history, and no sign of the end.
A whole industry has been built upon the idea that we are living in the end times. That suddenly this whole enterprise will go up in smoke and only those who are true followers of Jesus will be raptured into the heavens to reign with him forever. There is a whole industry, a whole theology, a whole lie built upon this shaky foundation.
I know a lot about this idea because it was a part of my theological/biblical training many years ago. I, for a long time, was around people who lived their lives waiting for the coming of Jesus, watching for signs of the end times, and interpreting every new disaster as indication that we were on the brink of the end.
You have seen or heard of the bumper stickers: Warning: At any moment this car may be driverless because of the Rapture. Or the one more to the point: Are you Rapture Ready?
This idea/theology/false teaching is what has created the great divide among Christians about care of the earth. If it is all going to burn up, why worry about preserving it. About the way the US conducts relationships in the Middle East. God is always on the side of the Jew and unless the Jews control Jerusalem Jesus can’t come back. About who is or who isn’t part of God’s kingdom.
To get a sense of how divisive this is people will tell you that if they should be raptured while driving a car or flying an airplane, the casualties that result will just be collateral damage and the persons who die were gross sinners anyway so it doesn’t matter. They weren’t part of God’s Kin-dom anyway.
While it sounds ludicrous or unlikely, this whole idea has so permeated our culture that it can cause a person to wonder? What if they are right? What if there will be a Rapture and I will be left behind.
Jesus is very clear in this scripture: Watch out for doomsday deceivers. For false prophets. They will lead you astray. They will tell you that horrible things are happening and that there is no hope. Unless you are one of the elect.
But Jesus didn’t come for the elect, Jesus came for the all. For all the world. This whole idea of a certain few knowing the secret code word for eternal glory and peace is not biblical. It is not the Way of Jesus.
Who said: I am the WAY. I have come so that all may have life and have it more abundantly.
And so while faced with the destruction of the temple. For Jesus was right: soon after Jesus’ death the stones of the temple were in ruins. The Romans tore it down in 70 AD.
Jesus saw the writing on the wall, so to speak, the Romans were not going to tolerate the Jewish religion much longer.
But even in the face of that kind of disaster
Jesus says; don’t be frightened, these are just ordinary times on ordinary days.
No sign of the end.
This is good news.
No sign of the end...
When even the very stones of the centerpiece of Jewish life could lie in ruins and the this doesn’t mark the end, just a routine part of life; this is very good news indeed.
Think in your own life, what great stones have fallen in your own journey. Those things that you thought were immovable, indestructible, that would be with you to the end, world without end amen.
Think what great stones have fallen in your journey?
the moral failure of a beloved mentor,
the early loss of a loved one,
the job that didn’t go where you thought it was going to go,
the betrayal of a friend,
the deteriorating health of your body,
the estrangement of a family member
You would have never believed these stones would ever fall and be destroyed. These circumstances would ever become a part of your routine.
Yet, there they are, lying in heaps around your feet.
Tripping you up, making you to stagger and even fall.
But the end didn’t come, in spite of thinking that it might. It didn’t. You kept on breathing, just barely, but you did, the world kept on living, you even began to enter the dance of the world, small steps at a time, little movements of joy, little movements of happiness.
Eventually you moved out from the rubble of the stones and realized you were dancing enthusiastically.
Oh you still might find yourself back at the pile of stones, but you realize they are there as a part of your story now, not the end of the story, but a part of the story.
And out of that pile of rocks and stones a more perfect story has been created.
One that is deeper and broader and more inclusive than you could ever had thought possible.
I want to show you in pictures something of how this works in our world. In light of Veterans Day I want to show you photos of men and women who have overcome the horrors of war, truly the worst of the worst. Their lives were in rubble around their feet, their hope for the future dashed. Yet out of that rubble they have learned how to BE again, maybe with a limp or an altered way of getting around in the world, but their joy and determination shines in these photos. http://www.woundedwarriorregiment.org/index.cfm/programsresources/warp/2015mct/
By these photos we can see that the stones we encounter are not without their trials and tribulations, Jesus even said: in the world you will have tribulations, but I have come to over come the world.
It is not the end, it is just the routine of living in a world that it full of trials and tribulations.
There is life after death.
There is hope after despair.
There is weeping in the night but joy in the morning.
It is not the end; it is a chance for rebirth.
Go and be reborn. It is the promise of salvation to all who believe. This is the Gospel of Jesus the Christ