In troubled, and troubling, times, some of us take refuge in and seek comfort from our faith. I’m one of those.
I’m also one of those Christians who belongs to one of the mainline Protestant churches, specifically The Episcopal Church, that some conservative Christians often think of as having lost its way.
I might suggest a bit of self-reflection on their part, but that’s not the point of this post. (Yes, there is one.)
In any case, below is the selection from the Gospels that was read in my church this morning.*
It’s not my place to tell you what Jesus was getting at here, to offer my interpretation of this scripture as the interpretation. While I have no doubt that some preacher did seize on this passage as a vindication of a particular political point of view, or a particular political outcome, I am thankful that my priest resisted that temptation.
I will say that I took comfort and reassurance from the words of Luke.
There are trying times ahead. I encourage you to find equal comfort and reassurance, from whatever source speaks to your heart and your spirit.
When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”
They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, `I am he!’ and, `The time is near!’ Do not go after them.
“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.”
*One of the virtues of belonging to a liturgical church (not just Episcopalians, but other Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Reformed Churches, and Roman Catholics) is that we use a lectionary, basically a list of scripture readings appointed for use on a particular day or occasion.
In short, we get exposed to sacred texts based not on the whim of the preacher, or that revolve around a single theme, but on a preset schedule. In The Episcopal Church we use the Revised Common Lectionary, which, if you followed it daily over it’s three-year cycle, would ensure that you would read virtually the entire Bible by the time the cycle was over.