“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. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” – Luke 21:25-26
In Cleveland this past winter, in the middle of February, we enjoyed a full week of spring-like temperatures in the 60s.
In the western region of the Pacific, small islands are gradually disappearing under rising ocean waters.
So far in 2018 in the US, more school children have died by gunfire than military personnel have died in the line of duty (according to The Washington Post).
There are plenty of signs, terrible signs, all around us in the earth and the seas, in the stars and in the sun, in the news and in our communities. We are not lacking for signs.
The question is: how do we interpret them, and to what end?
Do we proclaim the signs of global warning to incite fear or to rally creativity?
Do we point to signs of violence to cast judgment or to join in lament?
Do we perceive heaven’s quaking as a call to humility or as an excuse for self-indulgence?
There are plenty of signs, terrible signs, and Jesus doesn’t promise their easy resolution but only: “the realm of God is near” and “my words will not pass away” (Luke 21:31-33).
Let signs come and go; Christ is near.
Let stars fall and heavens shake; we will watch and work together in the confidence of God Everlasting.
When I am afraid and troubled, be near to me, O Christ. When I would prefer to hide my head under a pillow or in the sand, help me draw near to others for the sake of your realm. Amen.
Rachel Hackenberg serves on the national staff for the United Church of Christ. She is the author of Writing to God and Sacred Pause, among other titles. Her blog is Faith and Water.