One Simple, Loving Step at a Time
In the gospel lesson for this past Sunday, Jesus sharply counters a disciple's seemingly innocent admiration of the temple by saying, "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down." He then goes on to explain all of the signs that point to when this will happen, which mostly involve wars, natural disasters, and famines.
As hard as it is for us to believe, this short apocalypse from Mark, like all apocalyptic literature in the Bible, was intended to be good news for those who first heard it. Indeed, the whole point of Mark's gospel in some ways is that Jesus offers us a new kind of life in a world that is falling apart. Jesus offers us a new life that is characterized by hope, peace, and joy, and Jesus calls us to form a new society whose primary mark is love. In order for that new life and new society to fully emerge, the old stones that have been built on a foundation of injustice and violence must fully pass away.
In this season, we all have some sense of what it's like to live in a world that in many ways feels like it's falling apart. The cultural chasms in our country continue to deepen, the gap between those who have too much and those who have desperately little ever widens, we all carry worries about what our beloved church will be like on the other side of the pandemic, which, in a week where Minnesota has the highest case rate in the nation, feels like it's still a long way off.
But just as he did with those first disciples, Jesus continues to offer us the possibility of new life in a world that is falling apart. Jesus compels us to form a new society marked by love, justice, and joy in a world of violence, division, and oppression. And the really good news is, Jesus doesn't expect us to draw up brilliant architectural plans for what that will all look like. In a world that continues to be so complex, Jesus is always calling us to return to the simplicity of discipleship: rooting ourselves in prayer so that our hearts are tethered to the anchor of God's love; sharing our lives in real and deep ways with one another; and witnessing to God's justice through both small and large actions in the face of a world still built on oppression.
We may often look at our own church and think "not one stone will be left on another." But come what may, beloved, God has not abandoned God's people through every disruption, hardship, and exhausting journey we've faced before, and you can be assured God will not abandon us now. You may not have the whole road map figured out, and neither do I. But thanks be to God, we aren't called to be cartographers of God's reign of love, we're simply called to throw ourselves fully into it, one simple, loving step at a time.
The Right Reverend Craig Loya
Episcopal Church in Minnesota