I have never really been good at preaching on eschatological passages of Scripture, of which this week’s Gospel (Mark 13.1-10) is a part. What is eschatology you ask? It is the study of the end times. I know that most Anglicans tend to live and believe that the world is becoming a better place, slowly but surely. More than likely many believe that the world will slowly become a better place without help. This is something called process theology. Yet the evidence points to the contrary; that things are getting worse in this world, not better. So, it would be natural and normal for us as human beings when considering this world, ask how we will when things are going to be made better, or even perfect? And how will we know when such a thing is going to occur so that we can be ready for it?
This leads me to ask a simple question: what is expected of us as believers and follows of Jesus, in a world that is falling apart? In the last couple of weeks in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus has been noted and seen Turing his back on the Temple treasury and then on the temple and its system in its entirety. The Gospel places Jesus in a position of opposition against what is perceived to be the status quo. This is a dangerous place to be because the mighty and the powerful want and need to keep the system as it is, to keep them in power and in control. So, it would be fitting to respond to the discussion between Jesus and the unnamed disciple as the disciple saying to Jesus, “This place is so great and so massive. Are we really,... we are going to fight all this?”
It has also occurred to me that when Jesus points out that no stone will be left in its spot on top of another, he also seems to be speaking of the stone on his tomb – that it too will be moved. In doing so, will render the changes that the world, that we as people have been looking for. And maybe this is a good time to point out that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus happen in the middle of a city that is in an occupied mess in a world that is in the midst of total upheaval. Jesus did not come to turn the world upside down, to bring it right side up and to turn the community of the Church, inside out. Remember too, there is no faith or trust in self reliance. That is what the faith of the nation had become – a desire to be self reliant and for the maintenance of the status.
Status seekers and those who want to maintain things are in a for a rude awaken because change and the transformation of this world and this life into what God wants it to be, is coming and we cannot stop it. We cannot make deals to prevent it. So, either we are going to have to learn to transform and to live within the will of God, or we are going to have face the chaos. Our faith cannot shield us from the chaos, the pain and the panic that comes from change, but it can guide us through it. Changes are coming to all of us which are going to upset and disrupt our status quo. There is no doubt about that. What is left to us is how we are going to navigate what happens and who we are focused on. Such times are going to force us to either live the courage of our convictions or we are going to have to capitulate to the flow of our society into whatever they believe will make us better.
Maybe that is why I am encouraged to hear Jesus say that these things that we are going through are the beginning of the birth pangs. Or more importantly, this is the beginning not the end. Wars and massive destruction are not what we are looking for, but we recognize that we are going somewhere. Yes, there is pain and suffering in the journeying. Mistakes and misjudgments will be made. We will get distracted and off track and need to be drawn back to the narrow path. What is expected of us is to be who we are in Christ – no more and no less either. And at the end of it all, there will be a new creation that will have new life. With that life there will be a celebration, a feast, the likes of which the earth and heaven have never seen but will rejoice in all the more.