Acknowledging the Realities of Life
(Chuck Johnston is a long time member of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland, CA, and the 2023 recipient of the Daisy Funderburk Award in Christian Education)
Luke 21:34-38 (NRSVUE)
34“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place and to stand before the Son of Man.”
37 Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. 38 And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.
On the surface, this seems to me like a strange passage to consider for Advent. I guess the kid in me still considers Advent as that last few weeks before Christmas finally gets here. We have bought the gifts, decorated the house, mailed the cards, called the relatives and finally, finally it is time to celebrate! Break out the eggnog! Add a little brandy, please. Carve the turkey, slice the ham. I’ve been waiting for those sweet potatoes with the melted marshmallows for an entire year!
In my enthusiasm to celebrate, I’ve overlooked the Lord. This passage is a reminder from Jesus himself that tough times could be just around the corner. Turn on the news, look out your window. Tough times are already here. Think of the preemies in that hospital basement in Gaza. Think of their mothers. Their suffering is too great to even contemplate.
O God, show us how to respond to the harsh realities of life. Give us compassion for those who suffer. Move us to action that a just world can come. Amen