Here are initial thoughts on one of the upcoming lectionary readings for this Sunday:
"When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he 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."
I've been thinking lately about waiting. Maybe it's because the Cubs just won the World Series after waiting for 108 years! A concept closely tied to waiting is endurance. Both waiting and endurance are Biblical concepts; in the letter to the Philippians, St. Paul talks about the spiritual life as a race one must run with "endurance." We are about to enter the Christian season of Advent, where "waiting" is a concept heavily emphasized: waiting for the return of Christ and waiting for the birth of Jesus.
In the lesson from Luke, endurance here is understood in a particular context: it is about enduring difficult times, times of political and social uncertainty, times of chaos and discord. Sound familiar? It is interesting to me that Jesus does not answer the disciples' question of when these times will be; instead, he provides them ways on how to live during such times. Perhaps that is a lesson to us: as we, too, live in times of uncertainty and dysfunction, maybe we also need focus on how to live during them, instead of how to get out of them.