Monday, April 4, 2011

God never was enamored with the idea of building a Temple. God was more interested in building lives, building relationships, building sustainable foundations of love and hope.

Rodger McDaniel is the Pastor at Highlands Presbyterian Church
in Cheyenne. This is an excerpt from yesterday’s sermon.
Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, terrorism, nuclear weapons in the hands of rogue nations, climate change and global warming, economic collapse, the Mayan Calendar…is the world coming to an end? I don’t know…but I do know that every day it comes to an end for someone!  Curious thing isn’t it…how some people are so sure it will end for all of us but few are willing to acknowledge the reality that it will end for them.
Any of you hear of wars and rumors of wars? Earthquakes, famines? Luke added to the warning words of Jesus, “on the earth there will be distress among nations, confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world.” The disciples who had heard of wars and rumors of wars and saw earthquakes and famines and confusion then began waiting for the end even as there are those who wait for it now.
Most don’t worry a great deal about awaiting the end of the world but all of us wait through a variety of worries…waiting for the results of a biopsy or other medical test, waiting for a letter from an estranged child, or the safe return of a loved one from a tour of duty. We all know the challenges of waiting, the stress and the anxiety of waiting…for what could be the end of our own world.

As Jesus departs the Temple after several consequential debates with the religious fundamentalists of his day, Mark writes (13:1-2) “13As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 2Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” The clueless disciples are more impressed with the Temple than with what they just heard from the teacher.

Yet, no matter how big and impressive the stones of the structures supporting our lives, there comes a time when not a one of them will be left standing, when not a one of them will seem important. It’s okay. God never was enamored with the idea of building a Temple. God was more interested in building lives, building relationships, building sustainable foundations of love and hope. The disciples hear Jesus say the stones will not last, all will topple. They want to know when. What are the signs of the Apocalypse? How will we know it is coming to an end? What are the signs of the coming destruction?

Jesus says, “If you want signs, I can give you signs. “
When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines.
And Jesus concludes, “This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.”What are birth pangs? They are signs of hope. Birth pangs, of course, accompany birth, the birth not only of children but of ideas, hopeful ideas. Birth pangs precede transformation. It is no coincidence that Jesus speaks of birth pangs in the last week of his life. Jesus knows what lies ahead on Friday…and on Sunday…and says all the turmoil of the day, the wars and famines and earthquakes and terrorism and climate change…all of it is not the end but rather the birth pangs of a new, more hopeful day, a day of Resurrection. 
Jesus is not predicting the END of the world but rather Jesus is teaching that all of those things can give birth to a new and more hopeful world. That is what Resurrection is really all about. And with that…The longest day of the final week comes to an end with Jesus advising us to take heed, be alert.

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