This Sunday's Gospel lesson refers to wars, rumors of wars, nations, kingdoms, earthquakes, and famine. Pretty scary stuff!
But the point of the passage isn't to scare us. Jesus' powerful "mini-apocalypse" in Mark 13 reminds us - in extremely powerful language - of the reality of change. Other than God himself, what is the one constant in our universe? Change!
The movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring begins with the prophetic words, "The world is changing." And so it is. Change surrounds us...cultural shifts, political transitions, and the ever-changing seasons here in western Pennsylvania. Autumn is now nearing its end, and we have seen the green summer leaves transform into beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges, and then die.
But this change is not a bad thing...if we are aware of what is happening.
The leaves change, fall and die each year in order that the trees may survive the cold, desolate winter and be reborn in a lush, green springtime.
God himself - the One who never changes, who is always the same, forever - changed 2000 years ago by becoming incarnate in human flesh, that we may survive the cold, desolate winter of our sin and be reborn in a lush, green springtime. For though God is never-changing, he is never static; God is the definition of "dynamic".
The changes in our world, our culture, and our lives should not be approached or observed with fear or uncertainity or trepidation. Rather, we need to remember that Jesus said that the changes we see are actually "labor pains", and that God is using the dynamic state of reality to give birth to something wonderful and dramatic...something far beyond our hopes and dreams.
So, be alert! Look for the changes around you! Adapt! Do not fear! Know that though change can be daunting, God is still sovereign and has tremendously exciting plans for each of us, for his Church, and for the world he has created!