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Son Shine Forecast

Mark 13:14-23

The Rev. Jon Roberts

15 November


Good Shepherd Episcopal

Venice, FL

14 “But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; 15 let him who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything away; 16 and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. 17 And alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not shortened the days, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if any one says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But take heed; I have told you all things beforehand.


God is light by Sergey Roy, 1999

This morning's forecast calls for clear skies with an abundant amount of sunshine and a high of eighty degrees. The emphasis is on "sunshine" today.

If one were to get in their car and drive to a church this morning...Church, they may encounter the following situation. It's early. The fog is lifting. You turn on the car and begin to pull away from the driveway. Now, you discover your wipers aren't that good when you try to clear the windshield from all the bugs and dirt. It could be from months of neglect by not washing the car. If you turn east, what do you think happens? That's right, the sun from the East glares most bright and you are blinded. If someone was in front of your car you would probably run right over them. Sunlight can be a blinding force revealing all the crap that covers the surface. It can be a dangerous and fearful thing, not only for driving but simply for living.

Once there was a man who took in God’s light every day by reading, marking and ingesting holy scripture. He was absorbed by the light, but he made others feel like they were going to die any moment with the words he spoke. It was always about the world coming to an end. He would say, "Did you see what happened in the news the other day? Well, that fulfilled prophecy. You can read about it in the bible. Something worse is just around the corner if you don’t get your life together right now.” He would be on the watch for a sign, pointing out how it all coincides with what was predicted in scripture. The problem people had with him was not his message. It was his delivery. Everyone knows the world can come to an end. It’s just a matter of when.

Apocalyptic is popular in the media. Movies such as Armageddon, Deep Impact, The Day After and Take Shelter, to name a few. Not too long ago, our delegates traveled to the diocesan general convention. We began our day in morning prayer and we attended workshops. One of the workshops was on disaster preparedness. As Floridians, we expect one day a hurricane could strike. We watch for the signs. Ironically, the convention is a new building, where the previous one had been blown away by a hurricane. One of our speakers was the canon to the Diocese of Louisiana. Another was a former marine, now a priest in our diocese, who organizes our diocesan disaster preparation plan. They showed us slides of the many churches and homes that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Hollowed out sanctuaries, and sometimes just a slab of concrete, were all that remained. We observed that regardless of how much concrete and rebar was used to reinforce, if the winds and water are strong enough, no amount can withstand disaster. It was very apocalyptic.

The future course of the world may have clear skies and an abundance of sunshine, but it also contains a bleak forecast for those not prepared. More falling buildings, more wars, persecutions, and a high probability it would be caused by a villain referred as the antichrist and their minions who contribute to the destruction, are on the way. To learn more about, we can read such forecasts in the Bible. If you enjoy reading the Bible, but don’t care for end times language, then don't bother reading the Book of Daniel. And for that matter, it's best you overlook the Book of Job, parts of Exodus and Deuteronomy; some of the minor prophets and definitely not Ecclesiastes. You should avoid reading the Revelation to John as well as this morning's gospel. Half of the bible may be perceived as a dark forecast for humanity.
In our gospel today, when Jesus refers to the abomination of desolation, he is speaking about both the climate of the church and the climate of the soul as they go through such times together. We hear once again what seems to be alarming news. A forecast of end times by Jesus to his followers. But he's preparing them for what to do when disaster occurs. He has a plan. Lists of emergency contacts and supplies are essential. He prepares the church and its people for the reality that there will be times when it falls to the ground. He said these things are unavoidable much like a hurricane coming up the coast and we will all be builders to build back what was blown away. The Son of God was sent to shine so that we could see through the fear, the devastation and ruin of what once was great. He gave us the plan.

As far as the church goes, Jesus may be recalling the forecast in Daniel's day. He could be forecasting what happened to the temple during the Babylonian Captivity with the first deportation in 586 BC. Perhaps it was later when the Seleucid empire in the 200's, erected a statue of Zeus in the temple, ordering all the rabbis to worship it. Perhaps Jesus may be referring to a future abomination, exposure to more idols, as a result of the Roman Empire. About seven years after Jesus was crucified the emperor Caligula in 41AD vowed to take a pig to the temple in Jerusalem and sacrifice it on the altar. This sacrilege desecrated the structure of a society, of a temple. Perhaps further ahead in 70 AD, when the Roman general Titus laid siege on Jerusalem, and destroying the temple for the final time. Or, perhaps he was forecasting centuries ahead, when the Dome of the Rock was seen as a desolating sacrilege built on the original temple mound. As far as the church goes, it has and will continue to see its time of anguish. Jesus is saying that idols and antichrists will come and go, perhaps even with the American empire.

More importantly, Jesus shines his light upon the individual. What is your idol? What crap have you allowed on your windshield to which you can barely see through? Either God's people are placed somewhere they don't belong, or something that doesn't belong is placed within them. You who are listening understand what this means. This could be a dismal forecast, but there is sunshine in store. God, in his infinite love for his creation, would see to it, that mankind would not live under the tyranny of sin. If the wages of sin are death, then by his sovereign will to love us, he shines brightly through us. He has ordered clear skies leading us to heaven by the light of his Son shining down. Therefore, plan ahead. Stock up on every ray, every bit of light he sheds. Make your lists of supplies. Do you have faith, hope and love in ample amount? Draw up your contacts. Do you know who to call when in need; your family, your priest? Get in your car. Go to church and pray, so that the Son light of God reaches into you this day.

[1] Mark 13:14-23
[2] Robert Stein, “Jesus, the Destruction of Jerusalem, and the Coming of the Son of Man in Luke 21:5-38” SBJT 16.3 (2012): 18-27.

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