Terrible Signs

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” – Luke 21:25-26

 In Cleveland this past winter, in the middle of February, we enjoyed a full week of spring-like temperatures in the 60s.

In the western region of the Pacific, small islands are gradually disappearing under rising ocean waters.

So far in 2018 in the US, more school children have died by gunfire than military personnel have died in the line of duty (according to The Washington Post).

There are plenty of signs, terrible signs, all around us in the earth and the seas, in the stars and in the sun, in the news and in our communities. We are not lacking for signs.

The question is: how do we interpret them, and to what end?

Do we proclaim the signs of global warning to incite fear or to rally creativity?

Do we point to signs of violence to cast judgment or to join in lament?

Do we perceive heaven’s quaking as a call to humility or as an excuse for self-indulgence?

There are plenty of signs, terrible signs, and Jesus doesn’t promise their easy resolution but only: “the realm of God is near” and “my words will not pass away” (Luke 21:31-33).

Let signs come and go; Christ is near.

Let stars fall and heavens shake; we will watch and work together in the confidence of God Everlasting.

When I am afraid and troubled, be near to me, O Christ. When I would prefer to hide my head under a pillow or in the sand, help me draw near to others for the sake of your realm. Amen.

posted originally with Stillspeaking Daily Devotional

Religiosity

If I am zealous in faith
but do know not peace,
I am a dangerous firebrand.

If I kneel before the LORD
but cannot stand beside my neighbor,
I am a self-righteous Judas.

If I preach “Christ is near”
but shame those who cry to Jesus,
I am a false and jealous prophet.

If I shout out God’s praises
but refuse to resist injustice,
I am a faithless narcissist.

If I build glorious altars
but do not tear down dividing walls,
I am a godforsaken disciple.

Faith is not a solo experience or a self-serving endeavor. Faith cannot love God and hate a stranger. Faith is not simple or perfect or grandiose. Faith holds mystery, knows pain, and practices curiosity. Faith worships and welcomes, waits and works. Faith dwells in love, walks in peace, and joins in hope.

Reflecting on the lectionary texts for
the 10th Sunday after Pentecost (A),
patterned after 1 Corinthians 13

Rhetorical (Lent 29)

Does the sun still shine?
[Hold on, let me go stand outside.]

Do the tides still sway?
[I’d have to put my toes in the ocean.]

Does joy still bubble in laughter?
[When’s the last time you told me a joke, God?]

Does Hercules still saunter on the horizon at night?
[Let me go diving for Leviathan while I’m at it.]

Do the robins still rise early?
[I try to ignore them.]

Am I not still God?
[Yes, LORD.]

When you are anxious, is my power diminished?
[Of course not, LORD, only my faith.]

When your way is unclear, does that mean I too am lost?
[I can’t really speak for you, God, but probably not.]

So tell me again, does the sun still shine?
[You know it does, O LORD.]

on John 11:7-9

Parables (Lent 28)

Five for two,
sparrows for pennies.

One for ninety-nine,
lost lamb for the entire flock.

Lifetime security for a daily gift,
a barn full of grains for a breath of life.

Ultimately: worry for faith,
a wardrobe for a lily’s glory.

Merciful God,
save me from myself —
from spending foolishly for
what cannot be bought;
for failing to trust in
your faithfulness.

on Luke 12