Gospel – 11/13/16 – Luke 21:5-19
While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, he said “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’* Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end”.
Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky. “Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, 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 on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.
So, I don’t know if you guys noticed, but something really big happened earlier this week. Now I know that in the big scheme of things, looking at it from a world view and stuff, it might not have been quite as important as it was here. But still, it was a very big deal. Yes, I finally got moved into my new office. Now, it’s a big deal because I no longer have to walk the half-mile from my office in the back of the building out to the front because my ADD causes me some major issues as I walk past everything that’s going on in – how long’s that window been here….? Oh, I’m sorry. I got distracted. So, I think what we really need to do is to petition Fr John about having a party to celebrate my new office….
But seriously, there was something very important that happened Tuesday night of this week. Just as we have done for almost 240 years, we went to the polls and elected a new president. Now, in a perfect world, that would be that. But as we know, this is anything but a perfect world. The elections have winners and losers. So, when someone is happy about the results, that means that someone is upset. The amount of upset is often directly proportional to the amount of acrimony, the meanness, between the candidates leading up to election day.
In the past, this has not been an extremely big deal, but it sure seemed this particular election it became much more of an issue. You couple that with a feeling of disconnect between the governed and our elected officials, and you end up with an election that goes against everything the prognosticators were saying. You end up with the single largest upset in out political history.
But from this, we have an electorate that has become much divided. And its been totally invested in one candidate or the other, but another large segment who didn’t necessarily vote for the victor, but rather, simply to have change. I believe that there was a clarion call sent out to those in the established government at this election that the country is looking to see things change – not so much for one side or the other, but that they were not happy with status quo.
So, the first Scripture this morning from the prophet Malachi, I think is especially poignant. To those who have been elected, I believe it’s a warning. “Lo, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the proud will be stubble.” So, if we elect you to go serve us, don’t go and serve yourself. There are long-term representatives on both sides that are now going to be home next January because the people showed they were unhappy in the direction the country was heading.
In the Bible, there are always warnings like the one in Malachi this morning. In real life, there are also warnings, such as this last election. So, if the elected officials want to remain in their positions, they should pay attention.
In the Gospel of Luke this morning, I see a parallel with the election. The people are talking amongst themselves about the largess of the temple, with its costly stones and offerings placed there. Just as we talk amongst ourselves about the waste in Washington. And what does Jesus do? He gives them a warning. “All that you see here, the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Nothing lasts forever – not an elected official, no political party, no ideology. We need to be aware of that, especially in a country that changes its elected officials by prescribed election cycles. St Paul said it every poetically to the Corinthians when he wrote, “We look not to what is seen, but to what is unseen. For what is seen is transitory – what is unseen is eternal.” We can’t put our faith in men and women, in forms of government, in the economy or anything of this world, because everything is transitory. It’s always changing.
The one constant we have is the only thing that we can truly have faith in. and that is the Church. It is the Church that can give us the strength when things begin to fall apart around us. What is unseen is eternal.
I know there are many here in the sacred space who are hurting, wondering how this could have turned out the way that it did. Dissatisfied with the results, frustrated with the process, angry with those who told you there was no way that this could turn out the way that it has. But this is not the end of the world. Its just a step along the journey.
Once again, from the Gospel this morning, Jesus was us to be careful of becoming discouraged. “See that you not be deceived. When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified, for such things must happen first.” Don’t let a single election discourage you. Trust that God is watching and look not to what is seen.
‘I want to share with you that for the last 30 years or so, I have been very disappointed with our secular leadership. I was losing faith in our government, our elected officials, and even those I was surrounded by in my daily life. Trusting too much in what is seen, not what is unseen. But two things happened. First, I was blessed with an offer to come to Prince of Peace to head our Pastoral Care Ministry when Deacon Al Prescott retired and moved to Chapel Hill. Now in dealing with our brothers and sisters who have been broken by life, by the death of a loved one, by the death of a relationship, by loss of pride due to being unable to provide for their families having lost their jobs, each struggling to hold on, Fr John entrusted them to my care, and I believe that I have been able to help most, if not all. And through that, I have been able to restore my faith in my fellow man. That is what God can do. That is what the Church does.
But, also, God did something else for me. As I said, the last 30 years I have struggled with this erosion of faith in government and fellow man. Twenty-four years ago, I had a son born to me and my wife. His name is Aaron. He has been a great joy in my life no matter where I was in my struggle at the time. He made it very easy to love, especially as a precocious youngster. But more recently, he has managed something so much more. My twenty-four year old son has been constantly reminding me that its going to be okay – not to become discouraged – because he believes in the greatness of America. He has faith in those around us. He has faith in the Church. And so, my faith has been bolstered in what is seen by that which is unseen. The love of a young man for me and for his country. And he is less than half my age.
But we know, or at least we should know, that nothing is promised to us. This election is proof of that. Just as the people asked Jesus for a sign, and He said, “Wait for it.” We looked to the media to tell us who was going to win – where were our candidates at any time? And, unlike Jesus, the media was more than happy to tell us what they felt was going to be the outcome. But no one can predict the future.
For those who saw their candidate win, good for you. But be gracious. Those whose candidate did not win are understandably upset, they’re hurt, and they’re confused, so offer them compassion. Be a loving brother and sister. That is what community means.
For those who are struggling with the realization that life is going to be different from what you were expecting, from what you hoped, re-double your efforts to strengthen yourself through faith, and remember that nothing is constant except that faith. That which is eternal. Take your lead from St Paul as he wrote to the Thessalonians, “We did not act in a disorderly way among you. On the contrary, we worked night and day so as not to burden you.”
I ask you now to join me in praying for President-elect Donald Trump, as we have prayed for Presidents Obama, GW Bush, Bill Clinton, George Bush, President Reagan, and all those who came before. It is what we are called to do. It is part of our community. And in doing so, we will find healing and move forward, bolstered by that faith.
At least that’s what I heard Him say…