Proper 28, Year C, Luke 21:5-19
The world is coming to an end. We have heard these words on the TV and the radio over the last several weeks and months. We are told that this will occur if Trump is elected. Others said this would happen if Hillary is elected. No matter who was to be elected someone was claiming that this would be the end of our great nation. Even now that the election has come to an end there are still people claiming our nation will fall soon.
When we speak of the end times our ears perk up. I guess it is just part of human nature in which we attempt to look for our survival through the midst of hard times. We are no different from the disciples. When Jesus speaks of the end to come they immediately perk up wondering when this could happen and what are the signs? Jesus goes on to tell them about wars between nations and kingdoms. He tells them about natural disasters; and even omens from heaven. But don’t worry about any of that, he said, because before this happens you will suffer. You will be arrested and persecuted; you will be imprisoned and brought to trial because of me.
Notice how Jesus is working backwards. He tells us of global problems of nations and natural disasters. Yet before these problems, he brings it closer to home with us personally being imprisoned and tried by outsiders. But even prior to this, he says, don’t’ worry about those things for “you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends.”
I wonder if it is a coincidence that in the very next chapter of Luke we have Judas betraying Jesus. Judas makes arrangements with the priests and hands Jesus over to them. When Jesus speaks of betrayal does Judas already know this is what he is going to do? Is this something that he is already planning and now he is listening to the prophetic word being told in his presence? None of the other disciples realized that betrayal is so closed at hand. None of the disciples truly understand that very soon Jesus will be imprisoned, beaten, and interrogated because of who he is. And that this fate, which comes to us by being our true self, is not only what happened to Christ it is what Christ predicts will happen to us.
I do not believe that we are in the end times that Jesus is talking about. I could be wrong but I truly don’t believe we are there…yet. But what I have witnessed is that we do betray each other. I’m sure we know of people who have been unfaithful to their spouse. This is an all too common betrayal of a marriage. Even more commonly we betray each other, in which we accuse another person of doing bad things or having bad intents. When we do not understand why someone is acting in a certain way, we make assumptions as to why they are doing something. Our assumptions almost always say the person is acting intentionally for a bad reason.
If we look at this election we find that we have demeaned the character of someone who we truly know little about. We accuse people of willfully doing things in which we do not know their rationale. When we hear their reasoning we dismiss their excuse as “just an excuse” as if they are trying to hide the truth from us. In the moment we humans do not always make the best choices. But what is even more interesting is that people will attack each other, as I have seen on Facebook, because they are holding different political views. I have heard stories of this election causing divisions in friendships. People feel betrayed by family and friends just because they have a different opinion; as if any of us truly and ultimately knows who is right, or if there even is a right or wrong choice.
Over the pre-election cycle, the Clinton supporters complained that Trump was inciting violence at his rallies. But now after the election there is violence as Clinton supporters protest the election. Who incites this violence? One protester in New York City said “It’s important that we’re protesting here because it will inspire and influence other people to start protesting.” What are they protesting? Our electoral system? The validity of the election? Are they standing up for someone’s rights who are being oppressed? Or even a law that should be changed? I don’t know; but I wonder if these protesters put this much energy into their candidate prior to the election.
I have taken what seems to be a detour from the gospel message, but it isn’t. Jesus starts with the apocalypse to grab our attention and our attention wants to stay there. This is not where Jesus wants us to remain. He quickly brings this inward to a very personal level of relationship between family and friends. This is where we can act as disciples. This is where we can inspire discipleship and faithfulness to one another. We have to get past demeaning other people just because they are different from us; whether it is the color of their skin, their political views, or their sexuality. We need to get past demeaning people because it is fun and our friends are doing it. We have to work together for common goals even if the goal isn’t exactly the way we envision it. We need to support our president as the leader of this great nation whether we agree with him or not. We need to support or future president in the same way. This doesn’t mean we give him cart blanch, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t protest about unfairness, but it does mean that he is a child of God just as you and I. It means that each one of us has a duty to uphold the truth without creating divisions in our relationships even if these are relationships with people we really don’t know. Christ tells us that “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.”
As individuals and as a nation we need to work together. Our history shows that this country is stronger than any one president. Our faith tells us that we are stronger than this country or the world. No matter what happens in the world or to us, even if it is the apocalypse, it does not change who we are. We are Christians. We are called to uphold a way of life that promotes unity not division. We are to promote justice not injustice. And we are called to be examples of this within the world in which we stand up against people who cause divisions. We are called to recognize and seek Christ in all persons; whether we like them, or trust them, or not.