Friday, June 17, 2011
Bricks and Mortar
And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”
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 pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. Luke 21:5-19
I grew up in the church, and my life has been spent in the church. I have been in many church buildings, both ancient and modern, many with problems too many to number. All of us, whether we worship in a Cathedral or in a humble chapel, have a soft spot in our hearts for the buildings that house our worship. The music, the smells, the sounds, the signs of the seasons are often sacred to our memories. Often folks get so wrapped up in the building, the rectory, the grounds that they forget why they are called together and money for the bricks and mortar, the upkeep becomes more precious than the people of their community. Sometimes in our anxiety to care for what we have inherited and what is holy, we find ourselves focused on the facade and not on relationships.
Jesus was faced with folks who held the magnificent temple in Jerusalem as the symbol of the strength of their faith. Jesus told them it would fall, and all sorts of other things they held dear would crumble. They must have been devastated and terrified. And yet he promised that despite all of this, "but not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives." He invited them to think of the rock solid, everlasting trust in God as the firmest and most reliable structure in their lives. He told them despite it all, they would be protected and tenderly cared for in the midst of destruction and chaos.
Today, I want to accept the invitation to trust completely in the love and protection of God and to let go of all my petty worries about brick and mortar. I want to let go of the concerns for the facades of life and pray without ceasing about the needs of the people where I am. May we all let go so that God can do God's work, promising that not even a hair on our heads will perish.