Jesus tells his disciples here in Luke 20 that the mighty temple on Jerusalem will be destroyed. The disciples were not having any of that! It’s unthinkable! Jesus is declaring that the only substance of permanency is the Reign of God. Everything else is perishable. Don’t rest your hope on government, a new president, or any machinations of your own devising. But beyond that, Jesus dared to say that in a disaster we must “look up and out” for the action of God in, through, and in spite of the disaster. The moment of sorrow is an opportunity to stand on tiptoes to see what God is doing amidst the darkness of fear. You’ve heard me say this before…when we feel down to nothing, God is up to something! God has the last word, indeed.
Jesus is not done there. He becomes even more brash by demanding that in times of uncertainty and malaise, it is time for us to testify of God’s faithfulness. We have the responsibility to look at history through the eyes of faith. We can witness to the redemptive movements of God. When women are sexually harassed, when white power groups get permission to be vocal, when Latino and Muslim parents worry about the safety of their children at school, when LGBT people are scared about their rights, it is time for Christians to speak out loudly against bullying, discriminating, and intimidating. Though it is hard for any of us to say this, Jesus actually expects us to be his disciples even in our shattered, painful times.
Martin Luther, the theologian of 500 years ago, wrote in a hymn that God is our mighty fortress and a bulwark that never fails. Though the powers of evil are grim, God’s truth shall triumph. God’s reign endures forever. We Christians are at our best when we can sing triumphantly in the face of despair and death. It’s time for a lot of singing, friends.