1As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!" 2 Then Jesus asked him, "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down." 3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4 "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?" 5 Then Jesus began to say to them, "Beware that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name and say, "I am he!' and they will lead many astray. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.
The church's year of grace is coming to an end! After today we have one more Sunday – Reign of Christ / Christ the King – and then Revised Common Lectionary Year C, also known as Luke's year, begins with the first Sunday of Advent.
Today is the last time we'll consider a passage from the gospel according to St. Mark. Although this Year B has been Mark's year, for Reign of Christ we'll hear from John, the Fourth Gospel.
Last Sunday we talked some about organization, structure, budgets, and accountability. Among other things, we heard the story about the widow who gave her last two tiny coins to the huge temple system that according to God's mandate needed to protect and provide for her rather than the other way around. Whether organizational like committees or physical like buildings, structures are absolutely necessary so life doesn't turn chaotic.
Today's gospel reading from Mark includes some apocalyptic. Steve suggested apocalyptic points to the future, and that's frequently the case. Basically, apocalyptic writing uses symbols and words that don't mean what they sound like at first hearing; they need to be interpreted. In scripture, those symbols often come from nature such as fires, floods, and earthquakes. Similar to a sign, a symbol points to or indicates something beyond itself. The word "symbol" can be confusing; we sometimes refer to the scriptures and the sacraments as the symbols of the church and often include the confessions in the church's symbols. On the other hand, in literature and in visual art, we refer to one object that stands in for another as a symbol.
On to today. The disciples are so very very extremely impressed by the huge temple building built out of ginormous stones. What is it about large objects, shiny bling, and ostentation that impresses humans? More accurately, what is it about humans that many times large, shiny stuff, and displays we can see from miles away impress us?
Jesus is in the shadow of the temple, still on his way to trial, conviction, crucifixion—and resurrection. He's been telling us and showing us real life is about faithful relationships, about care for those without power, about distributice justice. There is enough of everything to go around.