URC Daily Devotion Thursday 14th March 2024

St Mark 13: 1 – 8

As Jesus came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!’ Then Jesus asked him, ‘Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’ When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately,  ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?’  Then Jesus began to say to them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray.  Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come.  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.

Reflection

A disciple marvels at the temple buildings; the Temple, working reality and symbol of God’s dwelling with God’s people, centuries of standing, each stone cut big and deep enough to seat three people side by side, speaking to any pilgrim of the strength and permanence of God, God’s presence, and their faith. Unimaginable that it could be turned to rubble and dust.

More unimaginable than Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris being destroyed by flames.
 
Jesus reminded his disciples that the unimaginable can happen, that what appears permanent is not necessarily so. Change occurs, leaves people seeking after power and control, needing security. The power hungry leap to fill the void, the fearful turn to whoever offers certainty, people wrestle to find their position and stand in the new landscape, wars break out in the birth pangs of a new reality.
 
It is a timely warning on his road to the Cross.
 
For soon the disciples’ lives will be turned upside down, they will be left questioning who Jesus was, what they were doing with him, who they are now, and what they are going to do. Questioning the nature of God’s plan for his people, God’s purposes in their own lives. Questioning the nature of their faith.
 
Jesus reminds us that the unimaginable can happen, what appears permanent is not necessarily so.
 
Change occurs, it is rarely without discomfort, things often seem to get worse before they get better.
 
Sometimes it is that unimaginable happening, pulling the carpet from underneath us, upending our world view, shattering a long held perception, that painfully brings us to new, deeper, fuller understanding.
 
Sometimes it is that unimaginable happening that draws us back to what is permanent and unchangeable with God, not found in the making of grand and showy gestures, but found instead in the gentle breath of love, that many waters cannot quench and death cannot overcome.

Prayer

Holy Jesus,
You turn our distracted heads back to the truth that matters.
Our permanence lies not in the things of this world, but in the life of your eternity.
Jesus, full of mercy and grace,
Turn our fears to trust,
As You, in love, hold us through every suffering and change.
Christ of the cross,
Sharer in our suffering,
 
We close our eyes,
We turn within,
To breathe your love and peace,
and feel your presence in our heart. Amen.

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