Pastor Nancekivell said
”The Gospel passage today is also a wake-up call. It comes from the chapter of Mark that has come to be known as “the little apocalypse.” Something that is apocalyptic is usually something dramatic, hard and life changing. People often use the term when it comes to referring to the end times. An apocalypse is always a call to wake up to spiritual reality.”
Proper 28 -Grace Lutheran
A father knocks on his offspring’s door. “Jaime,” he says, “Wake up!” Jaime answers, “I don’t want to get up, Papa.” More loudly the father says, “Get up, you have to go to school.” Jaime says, “I don’t want to go to school.” “Why not?” asks the father.
“Three reasons,” says Jaime. “First, because it’s so dull; second, the kids tease me; and third, I hate school.” And the father says, “Well, I am going to give you three reasons why you must go to school. First, because it is your duty; second, because you’re forty-five years old; and third, because you are the Principal.
You just might have heard that story before.
I share it with you today because of its origin. Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit priest, told this story at the beginning of his book, “Awareness.” He uses it to send home his message that in order to lead a spiritual life one has first to wake up.
The Gospel passage today is also a wake-up call. It comes from the chapter of Mark that has come to be known as “the little apocalypse.” Something that is apocalyptic is usually something dramatic, hard and life changing. People often use the term when it comes to referring to the end times. An apocalypse is always a call to wake up to spiritual reality. Apocalyptic writing contains “hard sayings” – hard to understand and hard to follow.
We know that Jesus is always saying things to startle his followers into wakefulness. At the beginning of this chapter in Mark, Jesus comes out of the Temple with four of his disciples. One of them comments, “Look, teacher! What huge stones! What wonderful buildings!” You can imagine a sunny day, the smiling disciples, and then, splash!, Jesus throws the cold water of apocalypse on them by telling them, “There will not be one stone left here on another – not one that will not be thrown down.” The disciples smiles turn to anxious frowns and they ask, “ We don’t understand. When – when will this happen – how will we know when it’s about to happen?”
Jesus does not answer their question directly. First, he warns them of the sufferings and persecutions they will suffer and exhorts them to endure. Then, in time, he tells them more specifically about the destruction of the Temple.
Jesus’ conversation with the disciples points to something that might feel very, very familiar in these pandemic days. He is pointing to the reality of a crumbling world, while at the same time trying to teach his followers that the issue isn’t “having the crumblies”, but rather seeing the crisis time as an opportunity for rebuilding and hope.
In this passage, Jesus is not saying: “go sit on your rooftops and wait for me to come again”. Neither is it, “roll over in bed and go back to sleep, because this has no meaning for you”. This passage paints a picture of destruction of the temple and it implies the great tribulation which precedes the end of that age. Some 2000 years later, we know that the truth is the world has never been without massive suffering: pandemics,wars, famines, refugee migrations, mass murders and natural disasters – when they are happening to you and to people you love, it is the great tribulation – it is the end of the world as you know it.
The ultimate question is – when this great tribulation hits – are we awake or asleep? Do we come prepared with a knowledge of God’s love and care, which can give us hope and stamina to endure?
Or do we come as people who have postponed knowing God? Do we come as casual or nominal people of faith?
Or do we come with commitment and trust?
Do you hear this wake up call as a call to greater responsibility for the stewardship of your life and all creation? Or do we hear it as an excuse to abdicate our own responsibility – and project onto God our own destructiveness?
Like the followers of Jesus from the time when he walked the earth, we find that the great tribulation is here. And those who are awake are called to stay awake – to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who have no reason to hope and to minister to any in need.
Ultimately, Jesus calls us, as he called the disciple to wake up to the fact that the decisions we make each day have eternal weight. I suppose we can decide to roll over and go back to sleep.
But make no mistake about it. We live on holy ground, and that this is holy time. In the same way that the temple was a holy space for the people to whom Jesus was speaking, each moment of our lives is spent in and on holy ground. Whenever we find a sense of community, wherever we are fed and nourished, wherever we feed and nourish others… This space, this time, is a moment when we are formed and prepared to go into the world to bear witness to God’s greatness and faithfulness, as we answer the call to be living icons of resurrection and reconciliation.
Like Jaimie, It’s time to answer the call. It is time to wake up.