Reading: Mark 13:1-8 (The disciples marvel at the magnificence of the Temple, and Jesus warns them not to get too attached. Soon it will be totally destroyed by the Romans, he says -- something that happened 30 years later, just a few years before this Gospel was written. He also warns of even greater apocalyptic chaos to come to the world, and when his disciples ask when that will come, Jesus says he has no idea.)
There was a time in my life when I would have been all over this passage like a dirty shirt -- schooled as I was in the end-time schematics of Hal Lindsey's Late Great Planet Earth, inspired by the evangelistic fervor of the Jesus Movement, and very content with a fundamentalist faith that offered me both eternal security and special -- even exclusive, control of the truth.
Not surprising that one New Year's Eve at our church's Watch-night Service I preached a sermon likening Western culture in the 1970's to the end days of the Roman Empire, suggested we were living in the end times, and telling the people in worship not to go home that night without knowing where they would spend eternity.
That sermon is not one I regret preaching, but neither, I expect, is it one I will repeat.
I wonder ... how do you feel about a passage like Mark 13? What thought, feeling and action does it inspire in you? Do you get anything from Jesus when he talks about a coming end to the world?
I wonder because sometimes much of the secular world is more attuned to the apocalyptic than we are. Anxiety about the end of the world as we know it is felt in all kinds of ways by people of no religious faith -- from disasters as global as climate change and environmental collapse, nuclear war, world-wide economic collapse and zombie invasion, to crises as personal as terminal illness, loss of job and livelihood, or death of a spouse or a child, no one of us is ever more than one step away from the terrible end of the world as we know it.
So I wonder again, how we feel about a passage like Mark 13? What does it inspire us to think, feel or do? From the way Jesus talks about the end of the world as we know it, do we receive anything we can offer in turn to others around us?