Second Sunday before Advent 17.11.13 Luke 21.5-19

11 11 2013

Do Not Prepare In Advance

Jesus is dealing with uncertainty and confusion here, perhaps because faith is most acutely tested when anxiety runs high.

Luke 21.5-19

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’7 They asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’ 8And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and, “The time is near!” Do not go after them.9 ‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’ 10Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

12 ‘But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17You will be hated by all because of my name. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your souls.

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. What attitude is Jesus encouraging his hearers to take towards the future?
  2. Which are the most serious threats mentioned in this passage?
  3. What precisely do you take the word ‘endurance’ to mean in verse 19?

Heart Questions

  1. Does any of this passage frighten you?
  2. How do you hear Jesus speaking these words?  Remember he is called ‘teacher’ in verse 7.
  3. How do you feel about the discipline of ‘non-preparation’ (verse 14)?

Hand Questions

  1. Do you give an example of active, waiting and positive patience, or do you seek to control the future?
  2. What advice do you give about not following false prophets?  Could you say and do more?
  3. Reflect back over the last week or two.  Can you identify opportunities for testimony that you have a) taken and b) missed?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.

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