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Monday, November 30, 2020
Today’s Scripture Reading | Mark 13:24–27
“But in those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. (NRSV)
Do you think about the “end times” much? I don’t.
Intellectually I know some stuff. I can point to the places in the Gospels (like this passage) and in Paul’s letters that show that the earliest Christians expected Jesus to return not just in their lifetimes but soon. I can trace the evolution of that thinking through the Christian scriptures. Back when I taught high school, I loved teaching about Advent, including a lesson on “Jesus of History, Mystery, and Majesty,” in which we thought about how the season asks us to remember Jesus coming into human history as an actual person, celebrate the myriad ways he is present with us now, and look forward to his coming in glory at the end of time.
Spiritually, though, it’s a different story. When I really stop to think about it, that longing for Jesus that the first Christian communities experienced, the yearning that I (usually) sing about every year (“Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” “Come, Desire of Nations, Come,” “The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns,” and yes, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”) is not a feeling I know very well or have spent much time cultivating.
Because my life is so good, I’m not sure that I do long for Jesus. Meaningful work, good health, security, far more materials goods than I need, the love of family and friends: these are blessings that can lull me into satisfaction and complacency. They can make me forgetful of all the people in the world who do not have enough of any of these.
Perhaps focusing on “Jesus of Majesty” is what Advent 2020 needs to be about for me: not in the sense of some grand, dramatic vision of this Marcan text but in the sense of actively waiting and working for that day when this world will be transformed. I need to fan the flames of desire in my soul: desire for the kingdom of perfect justice and mercy that Jesus will bring.
Come, Lord Jesus. Stir the embers of my soul, that your reign of love is my focus, goal, and deepest desire. Amen.
Written by Susan Quaintance, Director, Center for Life and Learning
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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