Saturday, 17 November 2012

Nobody knows

GospelMark 13:24-32 

Jesus said, ‘In those days, after the time of distress, the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will come falling from heaven and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory; then too he will send the angels to gather his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the world to the ends of heaven.
  ‘Take the fig tree as a parable: as soon as its twigs grow supple and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. So with you when you see these things happening: know that he is near, at the very gates. I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all these things will have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
  ‘But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.’

The time of distress is not a distress caused by God;  rather the times of unrest and conflict between ourselves; the occupation at the time; the destruction of the Temple; time after time human beings fight each other for assumed power. Jesus refers to the prophetic voice of the past to remind the listeners that   violence, oppression and domination is nothing new; this has been a continuing human struggle since Cain and Abel.

Although Jesus has come to offer another option; an option for the poor, an option for Love,  Jesus sees that most of the world will reject his teaching. Already his followers are turning away; he witnesses the hard hearts of the scribes and pharisees in the Holy of holies; he sees the oppression of the poor and the widow. He knows that even his death will not change this.

He is warning those who are left that life is not going to be easy. They will be leaven; they will be a lamp; they will be the few amongst the many and the violence will be as hard on them as on everyone else. But after this 'manmade' violence,  heaven will reach down into the earth, brighter than the stars and the sun, and his chosen will be gathered up.

But when? And why the fig tree?

Fig trees have their place in the Bible; a tree of food and shade; a tree that Jesus often comes into contact with. For its fruit and its shade the fig is a welcome tree but, in a desert land,  it needs a rich soil. More importantly, it is one of the few trees that loses its leaves in the colder months so as to gather its strength for the harvest. In fact, the fig waits, even through spring, to the warmer months before beginning to show itself to the world. When the fig leaves begin to unfurl, there can be no doubt that summer is on the way. God's Creation follows its path.

The world we seek to create tries to carve out its own path and is often at odds with itself. The artificial environment that we have engineered easily outshines the sun, moon and stars. The night sky is darker, and further away, than it has ever been, wrapped as we are in twenty four hours brightness and busyness. Yet, within the virtual realities of assumed happiness is the knowledge that we are missing something. It may only be once the fighting and the turmoil and distress has worn  itself out that we realise the something we are missing wants us back.

How unsettling that is; the edginess of 'just around the corner'; the wondering of when. Yet knowing that in this generation; in our lifetime; in our life - something will be unfurled in us that cannot be ignored; the reminder that Jesus has redeemed us; it is Jesus who wants us back. As saints and prophets; evangelists and angels; as his chosen.

After the distress; the chosen will be gathered up - and to what? Perhaps not to heaven, not yet. Perhaps the time on earth will last a little longer. When there is no more energy for anger; when domination has finally found itself impotent; perhaps then the time will have come for Love and it will be those who remember how to love to speak the words.

In Jesus' name.


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