Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Jesus looks ahead to a cataclysm that had occurred by the time his words were written down in the Gospel of Luke. He saw it coming.
Roman troops occupied the city. Revolutionary movements were arming themselves and whispering war. The population was tired, over taxed and dispirited.
Conditions were ripe for deluded separatists to imagine they could rise up against the Roman military juggernaut and free the nation from foreign occupation. The people would surely rise up and join their cause.
It didn’t take a much of a prophet to see catastrophe on the horizon.
Destruction came in the years following Jesus words. The temple, the center of Jewish life, the holy place where heaven and earth meet, was crushed. Its courts were large enough to hold 400,000 people. Its towering thick walls moved awe for the God who inspired its size, grandeur and unparalleled beauty. But it was reduced to pavement scattered with stones.
Predictable things happened in the wake of the military catastrophe. The Romans destroyed and plunder anything of worth, society was torn apart, people argued, families turned on each other, and early Christians were persecuted, hated and scapegoated as being responsible for helping precipitate disaster.
Amid all this Jesus sounds a bit like Bobby McFarrin, “Don’t worry. Be happy.”
Forget worry! Don’t even prepare.
His message: You will have what you need. I will give it to you. Words and wisdom for the day will appear when you need it. Trust. I will not leave you to face the peril alone. Lift up our hearts. Salvation is near. God is at hand.
Keep calm and carry on.
I think those were the words Winston Churchill, England’s Prime Minister, spoke to his nation during the Nazi blitz of London.
I like the message. It invites me to place my soul in the promise that God will not leave me. My soul lies in, is surrounded by the great soul of God. The divine soul is my bed, my resting place, the home to which I return and lie down in peace.
I can visualize this. I see a great expanse, a huge field of grass, soft as I lay in it. Looking to my left and to the right I see no end to this great plain. It is immense, unlimited, extending to every horizon. There is no place it is not.
And I am one small soul, one person, lying in the grass, resting safely in my home, gazing into the blue sky, soaking up the sun, knowing this peace is the truth. The chaos around me, the rise and fall of nations, the rejections and pains, the disruption of societies as times and values change--all this is not the home of my soul.
My home is this restful assurance to which Jesus invites me.
Just keep calm and carry on, he says. I’ve got this. Don’t lose your soul to the chaos around you. Find it in me.
Pr. David L. Miller
Monday, November 11, 2013
We need to learn to refuse anxiety, to live beyond it. We need to know “the one.”
The life to which you call me, Jesus, has nothing to do with knowing the times climactic events will occur and shake the foundations of normal life.
You do not invite me to know and understand the future. You do not call us to study the signs of the times or even the scriptures so that we know what will soon come and warn others.
We cannot predict the times and great changes that occur in every age, every nation, every society and every life. The future remains a mystery to mortals despite our arduous attempts to control it and turn it to our advantage.
Everyday, you turn my mind from speculation and fear of what might come and say, “Look at me. I am the one.”
Seeing you I know, not with mind but heart: You are the door to a life of joy beyond the dread of threat and uncertainty that sometimes grips the soul.
While some of your misguided disciples, then and now, clamor to predict the times and seasons, offering harebrained speculation about what is coming and when, I will take your advice: Ignore them all.
I will look at you. You are the one.
Every suffering you endured was born out of love, and every pain you born, even the death you died, was the doorway to new life, resurrection.
The mystery I need to understand is not about the signs of the times but the sign of your cross. It tells me that the foundations of life will shake. We will know fear. We will feel pain and endure changes we do not want.
Even then, especially then ... lift your eyes and see the one who raises us anew, giving new life from every ending.
Pr. David L. Miller