Proper 28 – Year C

Isaiah 65:17-25; Canticle 9 (i.e. Isaiah 12:2-6); (or Malachi 4:1-2a; Palm 98); 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13; Luke 21:5-19

“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

                When will the stones come tumbling down?  That’s what the apostles want to know after Jesus’ comment about the building blocks of the Jewish temple (Luke 21:7).  The apostles probably thought that the destruction of the temple would mean the end of their world.  Jesus wants to make one thing perfectly clear.  When these things happen, it is not the end of the world (Luke 21:9).  Sadly many Christians believe that real life begins in the next.  Jesus believed that real life is now, and needs transformation, not termination.  Stones have been tumbling for centuries.  In recent years stones have been plummeting in the streets of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, just to mention a few places.  This is happening also in the private lives of people who lose jobs, get divorced, and in the lives of children living homeless on our city streets.  Jesus says that when these things happen we are not to be deceived.  The end is not yet.  These are only birth pangs, labor pains, which is what Mark calls them in a parallel passage (Mark 13:8).  When there are labor pains we know that new life is near.  Rather than hankering for escape into the afterlife, Jesus calls for us to give birth.  How do we know what God wants us to do?  We learn from the Bible that God does not lure us into abundant life by urging us to play it safe.  Hints of God’s guidance may be found in dark places, fearful dreams.  In all this talk about stones falling, and wars and earthquakes (Luke 219-11) Jesus is pointing out the dark places.  It sure seems like our lives are falling apart or ending.  It sure seems like chaos, but that is how stars are made.  Stepping out into the unknown chaos requires improvisation, as in jazz, because the score has not yet been written.  Life is a tune we all play.  God wants spiritual musical entrepreneurs.  Sure, it is risky and scary.  No one has played this tune before.  It is ours alone.  Our individual abundant lives are not found in any convention, or previously published work.  We hear the melody in our heads (hearts), even as the walls come down around us.  But Jesus says not a hair of our head will perish (Luke 21:18).

Greek

                In Luke 21:18 Jesus says not a hair of our head will perish.  In the Greek a double negative is used, which is a big no-no in English (not no hairs will perish?).  But in Greek it is acceptable and is used to give added emphasis.  Jesus is giving extra strong emphasis that we will be protected even if they kill us, as he says will happen in Luke 21:16.

Haiku

Tumbling stones on heads.

Dust settled to clear the air.

Behold dancing stars.

 

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