Those Who Dream...Keep Awake
But in those days, following that distress, "'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' "At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. "But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. "Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back-whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find your sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'" Mark 13:24-37 (NIV) Read the whole chapter.
So you've probably already started hearing some of the Christmas carols being played on the radio stations. It usually starts right after Halloween. One of the Andy Williams songs that is very popular and done by many artists is that song, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." Now I don't know if you've heard that song yet, I've heard it a couple of times. I've thought it, and I think I may even said it out loud once in the car, 'Oh yeah right.' Because this year is anything but wonderful. It's your Thanksgiving celebrations that have been disrupted. Your plans for travel. Your Christmas plans, whatever it is. It's hard to imagine that right now. We're experiencing what we would consider the most wonderful time of the year. And yet it's still Advent. It's still this Christmas season. The decorations are going up. In fact, we decorated the house over the weekend. I have to say it looks and feels nice to have that extra color, that extra light. Those extra things to remind us of the joy of this season. So as it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, we hear those sounds around us.
This was the perfect text to begin this season with right? I mean Jesus after all begins with those words, "In those days, after that suffering. Yay Christmas! Wait a minute, what are we talking about here, suffering? Not only that, it's not just one suffering, he says, "In those days, after that suffering there is going to be more suffering. The sun will be darkened. The moon will not give light. The stars will fall from the heavens and the powers in the heavens will be shaken." Why? Why, Jesus? What are you talking about here?
Now, granted this is a passage in that last week leading up to Jesus' Passion in Mark. So this is a lectionary text that others have selected. But Jesus in that final week is arguing with the Pharisees and the Scribal experts about legal issues. He's being challenged and pushed. He gives this prophetic warning. This prophetic warning is consistent. Isaiah uses these words. Jesus is quoting from Isaiah. Even the prophet Joel talks about all these things happening in the cosmos: of the sun not giving light, the heavens being shaken. So it's a prophetic message of, 'Hey folks, something big is about to happen.'
So maybe this is a good text to begin this season on because as much as we want to see that baby and be reminded again of this gift of love, sometimes we need to be awakened from our slumber. Okay, we might not be asleep, but we need to be roused from our lethargy, from our complacency, from our ambivalence and indifference. We need to have a sense of urgency. We need to be reminded that we as a people, we as a nation, we as a world are in desperate need of a Savior. We need God to intervene. We need God to enter into our world right now and bring that light, that hope, that promise, that joy, that assurance that things can and will be well.
This year has been a year in which we have experienced so much. We've talked about it since it began. As if a pandemic that's altere