Posted on Wed, Nov 16, 2016
November 13, 2016
Second Sunday in Advent (According to the “Advent Project”)
Luke 21:5-19 “Called to Love and Mercy”
The Destruction of the Temple Foretold
5 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6 ‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’
Signs and Persecutions
7 They asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’ 8 And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them. 9 ‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’ 10 Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. 12 ‘But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13 This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15 for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your souls.
So, how was your week? What’s new? Anything? I must admit, this has been one of the most surreal weeks I can ever remember. Nothing like a 9/11 memory, but it may become one, I don’t know. I was looking forward to Tuesday, Election Day, because of the 18 months of hype I figured the tension be released in the election booth. The say started very civil, many of my neighbors gathered at Kamiloiki Elementary School, a place I spent a great deal of time and energy. It was the biggest crowd I had ever seen at an election, but the atmosphere was pleasant, upbeat and filled with neighbors reconnecting. I voted, and went on my way, assuming that according to the polls, Secretary Hillary would win in a relatively uninteresting manner. As the afternoon turned into evening and the results came in, I remembered how an “outsider” named Jesse Ventura ran and won the election to become the governor of Minnesota. Nobody really expected a former Navy SEAL turned pro-wrestler to become our governor, but it happened, and we were stuck with it. As you all know, Minnesota survived and still ranks as a very good place to live in with good schools and a functioning government.
On Wednesday morning and into early afternoon, I received at least 5 texts and phone calls from people calling with essentially the same question; “What happened last night?!” “What do we do now?” … “How do I relate to our country now that Trump as won?” or that “Hillary has lost?” … “How do I relate to so-and-so now that Trump has one, or because Hillary lost?” And these same questions came from people on both sides of the aisle! In the morning it felt as if the entire perception of the world, shifted and everyone was caught off balance.
Even with all the rhetoric, it seemed to me that people expected or were resigned to the idea that Secretary Clinton would be elected, but that didn't happen… As far as I could see, everyone was off balance because of the surprise, and we were sure that we were in uncharted waters. I could sense genuine fear. As the day went on, the professional and amateur pundits began to fill the airways with attempts to answer everyone’s nagging question, “What just happened? Now what’s going to happen?” And then by Trump supporters, a quieter, “Oh, my goodness, we really won! Now what is going to happen?”
Everyone was shaken with the change the election brought upon us all.
Political change is hard for those who are not in agreement with the change. But it is also difficult for the so-called winners, because the responsibility of doing what they claimed is now upon them… and according to an interview with a Trump supporter, “tangible ‘improvement’ better be felt in 14 months or his support will disappear.
But the question about change and how we must respond to the change is actually now upon everyone’s shoulders. Did you really hear the words of the Gospel text for this morning? It is perfect for today. Jesus has brought his band of followers who were essentially ‘country bumpkins’ into the religious Disney Land called Jerusalem, like Dory, they were enamored by the pretty shiny stones and decorations that adorned the magnificent temple. To them, it was a big pretty building, and as they had been taught, believed and expected, the temple was the place where God was supposed to live…. Even after all that Jesus has taught them, showed them, and explained to them, they still had God living in the big shiny box and they missed that truth that the Kingdom of God was as near to them, as the person Jesus the Christ was, walking beside them. “God in a box” was easier to believe than a living, breathing God that can look at them in the eye (the window to their souls), hear their fears and concerns without judgment, can hold them when they are afraid, and pray with them as the Spirit lead them all … A Living non-judgmental, merciful God is beyond their expectations so they put their trust in this building made of stones and adorned with precious stones. They could control these emotions of grandeur looking at the temple, they couldn't however control their emotions when Jesus spoke.
Jesus shattered their illusions when he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” Think about what the disciples must have been feeling when they heard these words of the temple’s destruction; Their master was prophesying that the greatest symbol of their faith, the temple going back to the days of mighty King David was going to fall… and it did in 70 A.D or C.E. Luke’s Gospel was written about 85 A.D. or C.E. fifteen years after the destruction of their most holy shrine… The stones that adorned the top of the temple are still littered on the ground below to this day.
Jesus is very good at disrupting human demands, desires and especially expectations.
We don’t know the future … Are we afraid of change? Are we pleased with the change the election has brought to our country? The important thing for us is that we are called upon to be awake and aware, but not to be afraid. Don't get too attached to the status quo are words one of my spiritual teachers reminded me. Things will never remain the same, so therefore we are called to be awake and aware.
As we begin to live with our new political reality, there are only two ways to approach each and every day, with an attitude of Fear, or an attitude of Love. That’s it. If we approach our new reality with fear, we will be filled with anxiousness. If we approach each new day, and our new reality with an attitude of love, we will be free. We will be free to serve, free to question, and free and emboldened to be involved.
If we are anxious and afraid, we will be blind to our new reality, and unable to respond as people of faith, committed to caring for neighbor and God’s creation. When we remember God’s promise to love us always, even to the end of the age, then there is no hardship that can separate us from the greatest source of love, joy, and most importantly WISDOM.
Donald Trump has made some rather bombastic remarks and claims during his campaign, and many of them are very contrary to how Jesus said we should live our lives, treat our neighbor and care for the land. Our identity is given to us through the promise of baptism gives us great direction in how we are to respond and act in our new reality.
When we affirm our baptism we make a public profession of our faith. We are asked very directly, “Do you intend to continue in the covenant of God made with you in holy baptism:
And our response is: I do, and I ask God to help and guide me.
What else can we say? Jesus wasn’t into keeping things the status quo. We have been claimed in baptism and sanctified through the Cross of Christ to make God Known in the World. We have been loved, we have been showered with the Spirit… there is no room for fear, unless you don’t let it in.
Then in closing, Jesus understood the fears and concerns of his disciples, but their fears never stopped Jesus from moving on with his mission of preaching, teaching and healing those who were hurting or had ears to hear and eyes to see. The church IS the Body of Christ, and fear will not stop us from speaking, acting and serving according to the Calling of Christ’s. According to God’s Grace and Mercy, we are freed by love; never allow an insult or threat from someone else to hook your emotions and cause you to react out of emotion. Whenever you feel anger or disappointment bubble up, acknowledge the feeling and let it go, you are more than anger or any emotion. Our emotions do not define who we are, God’s promise of love and constant promise mercy and joy define who we are and will shape our thoughts and actions. Always put yourself in the shoes of the person you might not agree with, or is even an adversary; in so doing you will come to a deeper understanding of what really may be going on and can disarm the hostility. The freedom of your own forgiveness can empower you to have a heart of empathy and even mercy.
As people of faith, we certainly live IN the world, but we don’t have to be OF this world.
Love or fear … Choose love. Amen.
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