Jesus said, "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those inside the city must leave it, and those out in the country must not enter it; for these are days of vengeance, as a fulfillment of all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
"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. Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:20-28
We live in a world, and in a country that has signs of both great prosperity and great violence. The shootings in Charleston highlights that racism is alive and well. Across the world the amount of refugees points out how cruel and racist we all are. The signs can break our hearts and bring despair. They can also encourage us to speak up and to act. We need to see the daily abuse of people who society consider less than. The rampant violence and abuse can be seen in financial inequality, educational inequality and hounsing is we choose to look. The signs of God empowering us to move are before us.
Jesus is sharing with his disciples about the imminent changes and violence that they would face. Although they could be afraid, he wants them to embrace the signs as God's real presence among them. He wants them to be empowered to move with determination and faith. He invites them to see redemption on the horizon, even when the signs point to the worst outcomes. We are invited, in our sorrow, to look up and seek our hope which is grounded in the love of God.
Today I ask God to help me walk with hope. May we be grounded in the love of God and face the worst of the violence and abuse that surrounds us. May we be disciples who are willing to stand up and embrace the world aorund us.