Sunday, November 15, 2015

Today's gospel

I found a sermon I preached a bit ago on the Gospel for today--the 'end days' passage from Mark. Thought I'd share it since I can't write down what I said today, it was off the top of my head.

November 18, 2012—St. James, Higganum
Mark 13.1-8

The first couple of verses of today's gospel lesson has been used by some scholars of the New Testament to 'date' Mark's gospel. Jesus said that the enormous Temple would be overthrown and destroyed. That happened, for real, in 70 A.D. So, those people smarter than me and you, decided that Mark must have been written in that year or after.

That's really just an aside.

In today's Gospel Jesus is talking about eschatology—the 'end things'. Just something for you to toss into your next cocktail party: “how about eschatology?” Jesus is talking about the last days. Listen, “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginnings of the birth pangs.”

Jesus is being 'prophetic' here. He is echoing the style of the Old Testament Prophets.

But 'prophecy' does not mean, in a scriptural context, what it means to us today. In just a month or so you'll see the tabloids in the supermarket with someone 'being a prophet' about what will happen in 2013. It used to be Jeanne Dixon...I don't know who it is now.

Prophecy, most people believe, means 'telling the future'.

Biblically, that isn't what the Prophets were doing at all. Prophecy, in the Biblical sense, means speaking God's Truth into the present moment.

Speaking God's Truth into the present moment.

Any of this sound familiar? “Wars and rumors of wars...Nations rising against nations...earthquakes and famines.”

We are, I believe, always in the End Days. Wars and rumors of wars have haunted humankind since the beginning of history. Earthquakes and Famines and Super Storms are contemporary and real to us. Terrible things happen in the End Days. Perhaps we've always been in the End Days and need to hear God's Truth spoken in the moment.

Terrible things happen. I don't want to denigrate the wonder and joy of living. But terrible things do happen every day. Young people and innocent people are killed in war and violence. Israel and Gaza are on the verge of something that could be catastrophic. Young men, working on their own property, can be senselessly killed in an accident. Our fragile economy—the whole world's economy—is only one unexpected thing away from disaster at any moment.

Things fall apart. The world is too much with us...what rude Beast slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?

But the Word of Prophecy proclaims that, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, God is in control. In the midst of terrible things, God is still God and God's truth is that all will be well after the birth pangs are over and life is born anew.

I want to share a reading with you. It is called 'The Wisdom of the Hopi Elders'. It is a word of prophecy into our present moment. It is the Truth of God. Listen:

There is a river flowing now, very fast.
It is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The Elders say we must let go of the shore,
push off into the middle of the river,
keep our eyes open and our heads above water.
And I say, see who is there with you and celebrate.

At this time in history,
we are to take nothing personally.
Least of all ourselves.
For the moment that we do,
our spiritual growth and journey comes to an end.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!

Banish the word 'struggle' from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.


Remember that in these End Days. Remember to 'gather yourselves', be be 'community' to push out into the middle of the river and know that we are the ones we've been waiting for. Always. No matter what evidence to the contrary. God's Truth will be God's Truth. Now is the time to be Christ's Body in the world and lean into the sacred and celebration.


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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.