As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?”
Many Christians have come to believe that this is the central question of faith. The question asked by Peter, James, John, and Andrew, that is: “When will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to happen?”
They are talking about the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple of course. That occurred in 70 AD. But we have asked the same question about the multitude of other predictions and prophecies, expectations and promises of Scripture: “When will this be, and what will be the sign that it is about to happen?”
We want to know when, we profess, so that we can be prepared, so that we can be ready. But perhaps that’s the point: we are invited to be ready all the time. We are not called simply to live our lives with no thought of God or neighbor but keenly looking for the sign of God’s imminent coming so that we can clean up our act. Rather, we are called to live always anticipating the activity of God.
Not in a state of anxiety, let’s be clear, minding our Ps and Qs in fear that we’ll fail some divine behavior test. No, we are called to live in joy and confidence. Joy in the knowledge that God has revealed God’s grace, mercy and goodness to us and all the world in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Knowing God’s love in Christ, that is, we are called joyfully to share that love with others. And confidence from trusting the promise that the God who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us, restoring the world to its intended glory.
In time. In God’s time. We would like to know when that is. But that is not our calling. We are called to live now, allowing the promises of God about the future to infuse our every present moment. Because when you live looking for the activity of God here and now, you begin to see it. In an act of kindness of a friend, in an opportunity to help another, in the outreach ministry of a congregation, in the chance to listen deeply to the hurt of another. God shows up in all kinds of places, working with us, for us, through us, and in us. You just have to look.
When will this happen? Now. What will be the sign? When you see people acting as Jesus did. Even here. Even now. Thanks be to God.
Prayer: Dear God, remind us of your future promises that we may live in joy and confidence in the here and now, sharing your love in word and deed with all those we meet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.