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." Luke 21:5-19
I am a long distance swimmer, not a competitive fast swimmer, but one who can go a mile or more for the love if it. Some people find it boring, but I find I lose count, lose track, lose myself to the water and the breathing. There is sometimes more work for me getting ready to swim, then once in the water. As soon as I jump in, it becomes a part of me and I become absorbed into the water. Enduring is breathing, taking one stroke, one pull, one kick and one breath after another. Nothing more and nothing less.
Jesus is preparing his disciples for the turn of events to come. Things are pretty pleasant and comfortable for them but the conflicts are mounting and he wants them to be ready. the designers of the lectionary want us to be ready. They anticipate both Advent, the joyful waiting to celebrate the birth of Christ, and our readiness for Christ's second coming. Life will be full of challenges beyond our imagining, we are warned. And we are promised that if we endure, if we rely on the love of God, breathing in and out our faith, we will be found at the end, surrounded by love and new hope.
Today I ask God to help me endure. May we not give up when life throws the worst at us, and it will, but may we rather breathe in and out the love of God. May we rely on God's love through our darkest nights, knowing God is ready with the answers and solutions. When we have none, God promises to be our supply, today.
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.