Monday, November 7, 2016

Which End Is Near?

The bad news is that all signs point to complete and total meltdown on Tuesday after the election results come in. The good news is that the gospel lesson for Sunday has us getting ready for that.

This coming Sunday, we will read Luke 21:5-19, in which we hear Jesus warn his hearers, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven." Could it be that this mini-apocalypse is coming at just the right time to help us keep everything in perspective?

Listen to all the things that Jesus tells us will come: destruction of the temple, false prophets, wars, insurrections, national strife, natural disasters, famines, plagues, foreboding signs, arrests, persecutions, trials, betrayals, and executions. That, he tells us, is what lies ahead for those who follow him. And what is Jesus' advice? "But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls." Hang in there, he tells us. Stand firm. Look beyond the chaos and destruction. See past the persecution and strife. Remain faithful, and by your endurance you will receive your heavenly reward.

I begin  my sermon prep on Monday morning, when I read the lessons, pray about them, and begin to listen for what the Holy Spirit might be saying to us through these texts. I have a strong sense, however, that all of these lessons, including the gospel, will feel different on Wednesday morning. And I suspect that they will feel different again on Thursday and Friday. Right now, it's hard for me to see past the election. With no more baseball on television to hold my focus, it's difficult for me to avoid election coverage. But we must see past Tuesday. We must look beyond Wednesday. There are bigger things in play here. I hope that by the end of this week I am able to hear God's encouraging words that promise hope beyond this particular moment of national chaos. Surely God's promises are bigger than that. For now, though, I'm reading and praying and hoping and waiting to see what comes up--not with the election but beyond.

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