War. Famine. Natural disaster.
It won’t be difficult for priests and pastors to connect this week’s lectionary to current events.
The Gospel reading for this upcoming Sunday is Mark 13: 1-8, also known as the “little apocalypse.”
As 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.”
3When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4“Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 6Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.
Yikes. And… good news?
What are we to make of this troubling text? California is burning, nations like Afghanistan and Yemen suffer war and famine and disease, and refugees of violence flee to our southern border only to be met with armed guards instead of the asylum they seek. How are we to believe that these terrifying times are the birthpangs of something good – birthpangs of the Kingdom of God?
On Thursday, Adam Ericksen and Lindsey Paris-Lopez will examine this passage and try to find the hope behind the horror. We will discuss how this verse has been misinterpreted to justify violence or rationalize war. And we will talk about how we can bring love out of suffering. It starts by having compassion and empathy for people in the midst of these tragedies.
And cultivating compassion and empathy takes gratitude. Awareness of our blessings, awareness of the Love in which we live and move and have our being, helps us to reflect that love outward toward others. As Thanksgiving approaches, we can find mercy and generosity in our hearts and pass it along to others in this time of need.
What do you make of this Gospel? Do you find it disturbing, oddly comforting, or something else altogether? Have you heard interpretations that have scared you? Uplifted you? We want to hear your thoughts!
Also, what are you thankful for this year? What blessings shine a light through your darkest days? Where do you find hope, and how do you pass it along to others?
If you want to answer these questions, your thoughts may help us develop our own! Please comment if you feel so inclined. Then join us tomorrow at 1 PM Central Time on the Raven Foundation Facebook page for Thanksgiving and Apocalypse! They go together like turkey and pumpkin pie, amiright?
Image: Stock Image via 123rf.com.