Mark 13:24-37 “Christ is Closer Than You Think” JUMC 20111127

“But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. 28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.

13:30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.

34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Therefore, keep awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”  -NRSV

Looking in the clouds, Times, Patterns, Shapes, and Mysteries

The visiting air force chaplain at the academy reminded me about the fun of cloud watching. And I found myself listening to fewer of his words and paying more attention to the formation of  Cumulus  vapors passing by the chapel’s main window. Reflecting on the power of the wind and the effect it has on folks in the present location and for miles ahead.

To be a meteorologist is to daily graditifcation as Santa is to a child’s christmas morning. For those folks who are stymied until you have confirmation of the complete 36 hour, day and and 10 forecasts before you can make any plans or decisions there is a level of ODC about signs and predictions. At the root there is an assumption that if I have enough data and can full control or at least be prepared for any and all situations.

These folks look at the folly and foolishness of those who simply throw caution and proper priory planning to the wind and simple run out side without the full day’s attire and projected protection preparations.

But for all the neurosis and over planning of some, the caution of Mark’s text from Jesus is to look at the real comfort and importance of signs and signals. If the light on the stove top is red, don’t touch the eyes. If the dogs teeth or the cats claws are showing, don’t extend you hand. If there is no gas in the car, don’t expect to be early to work.  Signs are important.

The point being, for everyone and every time you hear the response to predictions and plans: “Only God know the time and date of the last days” is NOT permission to ignore spiritual signs anymore than we would ignore that grey clouds and strong winds with warm temperatures are the fruit salad that thunderstorms and tornados are made.

Accountable to the Signs: When did I see you feed, clothe, encourage the hopeless.

The point for the signs are the accountability that come with them. If you run the stop sign there is a greater chance you will hit or be hit by another motorist or pedestrian. If you ignore the signs ignorance will not get you out of a speeding ticket or soft shoulder in a construction zone, where fines are doubled.

If the date on the milk said it has expired and you are looking forward to a creamy compliment to your chocolate chip cookies or hearty breakfast cereal.. you find sour, butter, and rancid alternative if you ignore the indicators.

On of the clearest sets Jesus gives of accountability of signs are in the great judgement lesson, “When did I see you feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the hopeless,” and proclaim the nearness of the Lord in each day?  Here are your signs! Bill Enval’s catch phrase is more scriptural than even he might realize. Jeff Foxworthy has his, “You Might be a Redneck..”  Jesus tag line would be, “Did you see those who are hungry, poor, alone, lost, broken, different or afraid?” That is where I looked for you. That is where you could find me with you. These are our signs.

Look at the women, men, children and youth who received meals this week because we went out to share Jesus Christ with them. “Praise the Law’d, she said, God is so very good. Tell your wife thank you for sharing Jesus. There is nothing that separates us in his love.”

Look at the children who received warm coats in the hundreds. finding one that fits just right, we have seen youth and adults clothed in our own clothes through CERF and seen the kingdom in our clothes.

Look to though who the rest of the world would write-off, ignore, and pass by and there are those in this very room who would be friend, visit, comfort, counsel and love.

These are the signs of Christmas.. not the sale papers, door-busters and super savers.

  • Where we turn to the papers of the Word,
  • Where we open the doors of our hearts and homes
  • We find that we both meet and share THE Savior… if we will look for the signs.

Keep Awake: Watch for the signs of life and wait for The Day, the arrival, the present(s)

THEREFORE, the teaching is to be alert, be aware. Be looking.

Not just for the sake of seeing signs, not be being prepared, not even for being right.

Keep Awake, because the Living Lord, is with us…. Christmas is a day that drives us to The Day of Christ living with toward the Day we living with Christ.

Aunty Mame: “Yes! Live! Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!”

We don’t have to be hungry, we have food to eat and to share

We have a gift to receive and to give away.

Christ is near.

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