“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. “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. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.” (Mark 13:24 – 29)

It has been a difficult year, beloved reader. From a certain perspective, I for one am glad to be entering into Advent. I say “from a certain perspective” because it is also a very busy time of year, and one when loneliness is most prevalent.

It seems like we have come through a turbulent time already. And I admit I had to wonder at times if the end of this age was coming. But like so many other times the dark sun came and went, the moon grew dim & then brightened, the stars fell but others continued to shine, and the heavens shook & then were stilled. However, the Son of Man did not come. Well, not at least not from the clouds and was not at the gate. It was not time, it was not the end.

Maybe it was because humanity was not ready. Could it be that our not being prepared forestalled the end? And if that is so, is it dangerous to be ready? That in itself is a scary thought. Fear not though, as Jesus said. The weeks of waiting and being ready is in preparation for Advent. And there have been so many decades and generations who have been making ready for Advent when the only thing that came was Ordinary Time and Lent. Actually, may it be so this church calendar year as well.

Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.” (Verse 30)

“This generation” – what does that mean? Well, according to the biblical commentators, verse 30 refers back to the destruction of the temple the prediction of which preceded this passage, and not the end times! Whoo! Close call! That also means that the events of verses 24 to 29 have not set timeline. Furthermore, in history there have been several times when certain generations of humanity have thought that Jesus and the angelic company would be coming soon. We who are modern called and chosen people are testimony to that fact that what was prophesied for “after that suffering” has not come to pass. However,

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It 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. Therefore, 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, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” (Verses 31 – 37)

“Wake up” is not only an exhortation to rub the sleep out of your eyes, and emerge from you sleeping place. It is also an exhortation to remain aware and focused on the issues at hand. Some of my spiritual forebearers were very good at ignoring the times and events of society. Set apart from the “outer modern world” they clung to traditions and lifestyles that minimized contact with the secular world. But it did affect them. And as they became aware of what was happening in society, they stood up and protested the intolerance, hatred, and violence they saw and counter it with pleas of peace and harmony. They “woke up” and have stayed awake working for peace and the shalom that they know is in the Divine’s plan for us.

They too watch the signs and portents, waiting for what the Divine will bring and making themselves ready. Authentic Christianity does that. May you, beloved reader, shake out the sleep that clouds your thinking, and be watchful ready for the times that will come according to, and only to, the plan of the Divine. Shalom & Selah!