Is This The End?
Sunday, March 29, 2020
Pastor Mark Aune
Mark 13:1-8, 32-37
As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 2 Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”
3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5 Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’[a] and they will lead many astray. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert;[f] for you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen
Two weekends ago, as we all were adjusting to the current reality of social distancing, flattening the curve, closed schools, wondering what sheltering in place actually means, feeling a level of anxiety and fear that most of us have never experienced and oh by the way wondering if there would be toilet paper in the store, my wife and I went for a long walk.
We walked through the new tunnel under highway 62 near Dodd road and at the entrance to one end someone had spray painted on the wall of the tunnel, “The End is Here.”
I was really irritated by the defacing of public property and I wondered to myself, is someone just trying to be funny or are they serious.
It feels a little like the end is near although I have no reference point or any idea what that might look like. None of us do. We are in unchartered waters here.
Our lives, our schools, our homes, our community, our nation and world has been turned upside down in ways none of us have ever experienced. But is the end near? I hope not. I don’t think so.
As I turn to scripture, to our reading for today, we are reminded that this question of the end doesn’t really matter.
Our appointed text for today is timely. Mark 13 is about the end times and when Jesus says that the temple in Jerusalem, the physical symbol and main reference point to the presence of God
will be destroyed and not one stone left standing, his disciples are naturally curious and wonder when this will take place. “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?”
They want to know when it will happen. Just like we would.
It is not hard to feel like things are falling apart, like this might be the end. There is genuine fear in our communities as we attempt to understand and grasp on to the realities of what is happening.
Yet the promise is clear and direct: at the end of the chapter, Jesus keeps it simple and he points us, once again, in the right direction.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
Keep awake, stay alert, God knows the hour and can be trusted. Jesus reminds us how temporal and transient everything is, even the temple. The 24-hour news cycle reminds us how temporal and transient things can be.
But we still believe and trust that God is in control. It may not feel like it right now, but this is what we confess. Even though life is messy, confusing and imperfect, God is still at work.
I see it in our medical professionals, our scientists, our community leaders who put the public’s health and safety in the fore front of their decision making. I believe God is at work in and through the wisdom and tireless efforts of every person who is looking beyond themselves and to their neighbor in need.
This is part of what it means when Jesus says stay awake, stay alert. Don’t worry or focus on the end. Focus on today. Focus on loving your neighbor. God is in charge.
Jesus is telling us to trust God in the midst of chaos – no matter what is going on around you, whatever you are feeling right now – he is telling you and me to stay awake, stay alert and keep on putting your trust in the one who has the whole world in His hand and heart.
We stand on this promise. It is solid ground. Do not be afraid.
Thanks be to God. Amen