The end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)
Luke 21:5–19 (CEB)
Some people were talking about the temple, how it was decorated with beautiful stones and ornaments dedicated to God. Jesus said, “As for the things you are admiring, the time is coming when not even one stone will be left upon another. All will be demolished.”
They asked him, “Teacher, when will these things happen? What sign will show that these things are about to happen?”
Jesus said, “Watch out that you aren’t deceived. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I’m the one!’ and ‘It’s time!’ Don’t follow them. When you hear of wars and rebellions, don’t be alarmed. These things must happen first, but the end won’t happen immediately.”
Then Jesus said to them, “Nations and kingdoms will fight against each other. There will be great earthquakes and wide-scale food shortages and epidemics. There will also be terrifying sights and great signs in the sky. But before all this occurs, they will take you into custody and harass you because of your faith. They will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will provide you with an opportunity to testify. Make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance. I’ll give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to counter or contradict. You will be betrayed by your parents, brothers and sisters, relatives, and friends. They will execute some of you. Everyone will hate you because of my name. Still, not a hair on your heads will be lost. By holding fast, you will gain your lives.”
When I first heard that I’d be preaching at this church today, on this particular Sunday, I went, as I always do, to the Revised Common Lectionary to see today’s lectionary passages. Some of the churches where I go as a lay speaker don’t follow the lectionary, but others do, and just to be on the safe side I am in the habit of preaching from the lectionary, which I think is a good thing. It forces me to look at and think about Bible passages that I might otherwise overlook and keeps me from always going back to the well of the passages that I like and that I’m comfortable with.