Saturday, December 10, 2011
Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
They started arriving late last night. Our three daughters with significant others and my sister-in-law and our granddaughter. The joy of family and friends gathering for a significant birthday is wonderful. It has also made me realize how much we have been through together in the past many years and blessed I am to have such a wonderful man for my husband. A brilliant writer, dreamer and friend, he has survived cancer, economic and job ups and downs to remain kind, loving, faithful and full of good humor. Enduring and renewing love is a true gift, one that I am especially thankful for today. For Mark and the many blessings God has showered down upon us through one incredible man.
Jesus is brutally honest with his followers. Some of his followers want things to be easy and clear cut. A life of faith is not like that, and he wants them to understand that when times are tough, despite how it looks, God is drawing close. We are now to be dismayed by the challenges we face, rather, we are to understand them as the invitation to trust God and to love others more fully.
Today, I ask God to help me give thanks for the challenges in my life, to be grateful for the opportunity to be alive, despite all that comes my way. God is drawing near, and we need but ask for God's loving touch and tenderness in the face of all that comes before us. God is drawing near, rejoice! We are not isolated or alone but surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who can show us God's love active right where we are.