Mark 13:24-37 (NRSV)
Verse 24"But in those days, after that suffering,
Verse 28"From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. Verse 29So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Verse 30Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Verse 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Verse 32"But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Verse 33Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. Verse 34It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Verse 35Therefore, keep awake-for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, Verse 36or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. Verse 37And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake."
Today, our brief respite courtesy of St. Paul comes to an end. We’re back on our roller coaster moving into a future filled with suffering and cosmic darkenings, with falling stars and heavenly shaking, and a gathering unlike any other! It’s a biblical foretaste not of the heavenly feast to come but of the vivid end times similar to the visions of John of Patmos that wrap up our canonical New Testament in the Book of Revelation. Stir in Jesus’ Parable of the Fig Tree as an epilogue that seems to suggest his most imminent return, and then what? Can we somehow take Mark’s “vision” of what is to come, stir in Jesus’ words of time and place and then end up baking something that seems to make sense for this very day? To be continued, tomorrow…
Almighty and most Gracious God, even as we continue to hope and pray for the imminent return of the one whose humble birth belied his heavenly glory, put to rest that which threatens to shake us to our very core this very day, that we might be best prepared for whatever tomorrow will bring. Amen.