“Staying Alert – Not being afraid in changing times”

Based on Mark 13:1-8, 24-37

When Mark wrote his gospel, the world was a shifting mess. The Apostle Paul had recently been executed. Peter was likely in jail awaiting execution. The Roman emperor Nero hated Christians and was also likely to have been mentally ill. It was a scary time. People wondered, is this the end or is the end getting close? Worry was the norm, especially for Christians at the time.

This may not sound like a story from 2000 years ago. I hear and see the same thing now. Climate change is scary. Russia is talking about being willing to use nuclear weapons. There is dissatisfaction with leaders and in an election year the choices don’t satisfy a high percentage of people. People are wondering, is this the end or is the end getting close?

It is into this environment that Mark shares Jesus’ teaching about how to live in scary times. Jesus wants people to not cower down and hide from life. They will miss the only life they have! 

Instead, Jesus calls people to live with head up and to be alert to the work of God that is still happening and breaking into their reality. God is still at work. God can be trusted to act. Don’t live in fear and miss what is happening. Trust that God is still faithful and working and be alert! Watch and see what God is doing.

This advice is not restricted to a particular time. It is how followers of Jesus are called to live in any time and every place. We are called to trust that the God we meet in Jesus is working and that we are to engage the world faithfully and with our eyes up and alert. A lot of things will happen along the journey of life and throughout history. A lot of them will be scary and make us want to just retreat into a safe space and hunker down. But Jesus’ people know that we belong to a God who is trustworthy, involved in loving our world into wholeness, and will sometimes act in surprising ways. So we are to stay alert and watch for all that God is doing. And when God shows up to do what’s next, be ready to bear witness to God’s work and join in with God at work when we can.

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