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
My heart was broken when I heard of the killings at a bible study in Charleston. A group of faithful leaders welcomed another to their Bible study and died at his hand. Each of the victims were those who lived their lives serving God and the people in their community. They worshiped in a church that has been a beacon of hope for two centuries, a community committed to freedom for slaves and equality for all people. Their faithfulness endures, and today they remind me that we have so much more work ahead. Hate is alive and well and we as Americans can no longer ignore the sickness that has so effected our young and old alike.
Jesus is surrounded in the temple by those who love him and those who hate him. His message of God's love for all is terribly dangerous to the religious leadership. They want him silenced, they want him dead. They do not want God to love everyone, especially the poor, the outsiders, the slaves. And Jesus reminds them that God knows the depth of our human depravity and will give us the strength to endure the abuse of those who hate God and those who declare love and inclusion.
Today, I ask God to help me pray for direction for us all. May we be motivated by God's love and inclusion to be steadfast in our love and openness, letting no evil deter us from serving God and our communities. May we live faithfully and stand with those who have been attacked for their witness and love.