Readings: Daniel 12: 1-3 Michael the Great Prince will arise at the end time. Mark 13: 1 – 8 Signs of the end of the age.
1. Introduction. On the second Sunday before Advent, we look forward in a personal sense to the coming of the Kingdom of God in all its fullness. Our life here on earth should be seen as a preparation for the fullness of that Kingdom, whether we be here or on earth or in the glory of heaven. We have lived through the greater part of two years now in the hope of COVID-19 being defeated in all its variants and of a return to a fuller life as we emerge from lockdown restrictions. As Christians we know that our hope is in more than defeating a virus. It is defeating the whole realm of evil that causes so much suffering in our world. We are now more aware that suffering may be mental as well as physical, (albeit they can be linked). Sometimes harm arises out of mental health problems. Sometimes mental illness arises from physical constraints and accidents. As Christians we look beyond the immediately visible horizons. Some people have found in lockdown that it has been an opportunity of deepening of spiritual life, for example having more time for prayer and a renewal of hope through reading and studying the Bible.
2. Daniel. Let’s briefly consider our first reading. Daniel had been forcibly deported in the early 6th Century BC, from Israel, to serve king Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. He didn’t collapse in a heap of despair but put his mind to a 3-year learning course and eventually became a very high civil servant in his country of captivity. Some many years later an angel comes with messages from God to reveal to Daniel, and so through his written account, to us, that a time of great suffering is going to happen but passing beyond that, there will be an end time of a wonderful reception by God of those who have looked to Him.
3. Jesus. Our Gospel reading today is the beginning Jesus’ great teaching about the events leading to the end time. He starts from the immediate point of view of his disciples’ comment on the magnificence of the great stones of the temple. Although the temple was destroyed in 70 A. D. at end of the 4 years of Roman siege, one can still see in the remains of the Western Wall some of the huge stones to which his disciples pointed to. But although the siege of great city of Jerusalem and destruction of the Judean towns and cities was a time of suffering, both in seeing their beloved temple destroyed but also in destruction of their houses and death of many in their families, Jesus, like Daniel speaks of a more distant and greater suffering, of wars and reports of wars around the world. Later in the chapter we have the record of his account at the end time, of his returning to earth, in the fulfilment of the Kingdom of God.
4. Our situation. Some of us here, lived through the Second World War. A time of suffering, uncertainty and Yes! Hope realised, of Victory. We have been fortunate not to have lived since then with the fear and uncertainty of war directly involving our own country. We are though, well aware that in so many countries there is civil unrest and war. In every country of the world, we have and to some extent, still are, living with uncertainty of the serious Covid 19 virus pandemic. Let us though, like Daniel and all the prophets of old, like Jesus and his immediate disciples, see life here and now, with all its challenges, as a preparation for the life to come in the glory of the Kingdom of God.
Rev. Christopher Miles