November 18th, 2018
Mark 13: 1-8
“What are the Foundations of Life?”
It is stewardship Sunday and I have been told to keep it short, I don’t want to make promises I cannot keep, but I will try!
Today’s gospel is profound and speaks to the very existence of the Hebrew people in and around the time of Jesus. It is one of those gospels where Jesus predicts so it is often read in an apocralyph (or end times) manner but in doing so we miss out that Jesus was speaking to his people in their time in such a way which should resonate with us. So let us take a moment and unpack that. Jesus says the temple will be destroyed. This was a bold statement at the time, the temple was one of the wonders of the ancient world, it was impressive and it would be fair to say it had a permanence about it. For us a comparable thing might be to look at the Vatican or St. Paul’s Cathedral and to be told the bricks were going to be torn down. Yes we can visualize that but no we do not think it is going to happen. So Jesus is making a very bold statement in the midst of a change in his ministry, as this is around the time he begins to speak in Mark’s gospel about his upcoming arrest and crucifixion. So Jesus is talking about assumptions of permanency. He says what you know will be destroyed, including this temple and including me. Those things you count on as your solid foundation will no longer be there and then he builds upon this by saying many will talk in his name but not be him.
This message of challenging the foundations of our lives is a message that we should identify with because those foundations are often challenged. This first comes to many of us as we grow up and realize that our parents make mistakes, don’t have everything figured out and won’t be with us forever. It can also be realized through a divorce, strained family relationships, the loss of a job or a health scare to name a few. I think collectively with the financial crisis of 2008 that many people who built their life on the foundation of wealth had that understanding significantly challenged. For the truth is that the things of this world can be wonderful and uplifting but they do pass and there is a lack of permanency to them. Jesus is speaking to this and in a very pointed way as he refers to the destruction of their greatest symbol of faith. And he says that the temple, and he himself will fall but their is this undergirding message that permanacy comes from his father, that the temporal makes way for the eternal and that we are called to something greater in him.
On a stewardship Sunday this is an important message, to remember that all things come from God and that we are not to build up our treasures here on earth but rather we are to build up and work on those things which have eternal value.
Thanks be to God. Amen.