Weekly Bible Devotional
“Draw Near to Wonder”
November 29, 2020
Scripture for Sunday: Luke 21:25-35
25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Notes on the Text:
The story of the coming of Christ starts with a world gone mad, a world of deep suffering and pain. The language found in this chapter is often called apocalyptic about the end of times. The communities that produce these visions are usually themselves subject to tyranny and persecution. Apocalyptic language made sense to them. Those who have endured (or still endure) oppressive situations relate to apocalyptic literature because of their personal experience of suffering. Right now, we can relate to this language because the pandemic is making it feel like we are living in the end times. The language of the end of the world connects deeply to the brokenness of our world. Jesus knew about suffering and about people having to worry about survival. He knew all too well what it meant to live in deep fear and under a great threat. Jesus describes the end-times telling the disciples that there will be natural disasters, human-brought disasters, and continuing persecution of the church. Jesus describes here the culmination of the clash between those who follow the way of the kingdom of God, the community of Jubilee and the systems and people of society that battle such a world because they want to dominate, exploit, and oppress.
In the brokenness described in the text for this week is hidden a powerful message of hope. We are invited to keep watch! We are invited to draw near to wonder! We are invited to see the world through the eyes of faith because through the eyes of faith we not only see the world ending, but we also see it being reborn. To the average observer, the world may look like it is ending, but to those who look through the eyes of faith, the world is being reborn and we are invited to breathe deeply and do the hard work of rebirth. With the eyes of faith, the followers of Christ are invited to renew their vision for God’s justice in the world. They are invited to see with new eyes the realities of the world, so that they can join God’s mission of transforming them through love.
Advent is the season of being awake, preparing the way of the Lord, and of drawing near to wonder. Part of our preparation is our way of seeing the world. The way we read the news, the way we see the world, the way we look at others are all connected to our sense of being awake to the wonder and mystery of God’s presence and greatness. The kingdom of God as a reality of Jubilee will not be accomplished unless we are able to see as God sees. Through the eyes of God, we can see the pain of the world and work for justice without having to be limited by ideology, political affiliation or even personal preferences. Through the eyes of God, we can see how our attachments to familiar ways of being and false securities often don’t bring new life. Through the eyes of faith, we can see that the road ahead is filled with new possibilities; ones never imagined before because God is the one who is infinitely creative and resourceful.
From the Artist: Lauren Wright Pittman
In the past, I have met this text and spiraled out in my own grief and anxiety. Previously in my reading, these apocalyptic signs pointed to my own smallness, fragility, and mortality, stirring up fear and confusion. This year, however, for me these signs boldly point to the unfathomable, overwhelming greatness of God. This text feels massive, and it invites us into this Advent season in a thundering fashion.
Jesus says to respond to these apocalyptic signs with staggering hope and confidence. When it feels like the very foundations of the heavens are crumbling, we are to stand up. When the roaring sea and the waves confuse us, when the sun, moon and stars come tumbling out of the sky, we are to raise our heads. When the news cycle feels like an endless fire hose, people pour into the streets in protest, families are separated, and fires blaze through neighborhoods, we are to stand up and confidently usher in and claim the redemption that God promises.
Just as the trees signal the changing of the seasons, these signs will prepare us for the coming of Christ. Instead of getting lost in the worries of this life, stand up, raise your head, and get lost in the fact that this expansive, infinite God is drawing near to you. Choose to get lost in wonder.
Draw Near to Wonder: Poem by Sarah Are
Carve out space for intentional Sabbath today. Contemplate the following prayer as part of your Sabbath practice.
I wonder if the earth is waiting for a Messiah like I am—
Trees bending toward love,
fireflies keeping a promise to be light,
the moon returning over and over again
with hope that the world will look differently this time.
I wonder if I’ll ever really know when it happens—
Those moments when God is in my midst.
Those all the time,
rare kind of moments that I’m terrible at
trusting but know like a rainstorm.
I wonder, because I am human.
I wonder, because not wondering leaves me stuck.
And I cannot be stuck in a world
that separates children from parents,
women from their bodies,
and men from their emotions.
So I wonder.
Will the stars ever fall?
Will I see you face to face, and you see me?
Will the moon come back tonight and sigh, saying, “Ah yes. I can see that God is here. This is what
I’ve been waiting for. Amen.