If you have been going to a church that follows the lectionary, you may have noticed something. Most years Advent begins with the sermon being about the second coming of Christ. You would expect that this season where we count down the weeks until Christmas Eve and the first coming of Christ, would begin with a joyful celebration of the past. No, it begins with most preachers struggling through an apocalyptic passage like Mark 13:24-37, where the future looks bleak. I’m in that place this year. I don’t want to be here. The second coming of Christ and its accompanying apocalypse reminds me of what Woody Allen said about death; he wasn’t afraid of it he just didn’t want to be there when it happened.
Jesus says, “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” (Mark 13:24-25)
Jesus tells us that times are going to be bad when he comes a second time. Sea levels will be rising, fires raging, and families all over the world will be running away from wars and persecution. Well, sounds like today. Do you suppose that Jesus will come a second time in 2020? Who knows? No one does. (Jesus says that, too) There are two options; you can be worried and afraid, or you can be watchful and Christ-like. As the saying goes, you can be part of the problem, or you can be part of the solution.
Jesus knows that we tend to be paralyzed by fear in times like these. So, he tells a parable about a fig tree. He says, “Look at the way the trees of this world keep on doing good and making figs, and apples, and acorns. So, you should be. Watch for me and don’t get caught up in the bad news.”
I read a lot of history and I have come to believe that there a many apocalyptic times. I also believe that when we behave in a compassionate and Christlike way, we become for others an experience of Jesus. For now, you are the second coming of Christ. If this is the apocalypse, how much more important is it that you be loving, kind, and future-oriented?