Rev. Frank Basler facilitates an ecumenical community of practice for senior ministers, facilitates the Bridgeport Council of Churches’ interfaith work, and has a psychotherapy practice.
Scripture: Luke 21:25-36 (NRSV)
The Coming of the Son of Man
‘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. Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’
The Lesson of the Fig Tree
Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Exhortation to Watch
‘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, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 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.’
Reflection: The Kingdom of God is Near
We are certainly seeing “…distress among nations…,” and most of us have “…fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world…:” Drought, floods, famine, millions of women, men, and children displaced from their homes, a looming climate catastrophe – on and on we see signs not unlike those Luke describes in his version of the “Little Apocalypse.”
There are mornings when I finish reading the paper feeling utterly hopeless. But Luke isn’t hopeless. He quotes Jesus as saying, “…when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Luke’s hope is in the imminent arrival of the Son of Man and the coming of the kingdom of God. Not many congregants listening to this Gospel reading will share that hope in the second coming of Christ and the onset of God’s new government on earth. Where do we look for hope?
Not in the newspaper; that is for sure. I believe we must fall back on Romans 8: I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
You might consider using Romans 8:18-39 as an Epistle reading. Ours is a resurrection faith. Dig down deep inside yourself to join Paul and find your hope that humanity will pass through this dismal time in our history into a future in which love will rule.
At my most hopeless, I turn to my understanding of the kingdom of God as near, here, now, in us and among us. Does your prayer practice, like mine, bring you into the Present moment where God’s love and hope reside? If so, you may want to join me in this…:
Holy Unity, Grant us courage. Restore our faith in your mysterious workings in history. Calm our fears. Bring us repeatedly back into your Presence so that we may gain the strength to do our part to create a just and sustainable world, en-couraging all those we encounter. Amen
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the victims and their families of the 638 mass shootings already carried out in 2021
- For the families and friends of more than 770,000 who have died due to the Covid-19 disease
- For those grieving or suffering after a man drove into a crowd during a Christmas parade in Wisconsin killing at least 5 and injuring dozens more
- For those who will travel to be with friends and family this week
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For teachers who continue to learn new ways of educating youth in a novel time of pandemic
This Week in History:
November 24, 1991 (30 years ago) Rocker Freddie Mercury, lead singer and songwriter for the band Queen, dies at his home in Kensington, UK. Mercury's eccentric style, creative songwriting, and flamboyant performances help the band become one of the most popular rock bands of all time. Mercury tested positive for HIV and developed AIDS, though exactly when he was diagnosed is still unclear. His struggle with the disease and subsequent death from AIDS related pneumonia help raise awareness about HIV and AIDS. Mercury would be 75 now.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”
Rev. Frank Basler is an ordained minister in the CT Conference, UCC. He is a “dialogue partner” with clergy and facilitates two communities of practice for senior ministers.