Luke 21:25-36 (NRSV)
Verse 25"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. Verse 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Verse 27Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. Verse 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Verse 29Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; Verse 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. Verse 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Verse 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Verse 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Verse 34"Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, Verse 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Verse 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Jesus’s apocalyptic words and images have challenged people of faith from their first utterance. The coming of the Son of Man, with clouds and signs, the shaking of the powers of heaven, turmoil in the natural world, and distress among nations surely resonates with the climate of disaster, war and violence, political upheaval, and social breakdown of our own time. So too we share in the anxiety, fear, foreboding, and dismay felt by the faithful of many times and places. In Luke’s day and in ours, and in every time between, there can be a sense of the world spiraling out of control. What then are we to do? Jesus tells us to remain alert, stand up and raise our heads, because our redemption is drawing near. Waiting and watching, in anticipation of the Lord’s coming may not be a typical message for this Thanksgiving Day, but the promise of God’s redeeming presence is indeed worthy of our thanks and praise.
God of power and glory, be with us in times of worry and fear and support us in our waiting and watching. Amen.