Luke 21:5-19 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
5 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?” 8 And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’[a] and, ‘The time is near!’[b] 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.” 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there 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. 13 This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15 for I will give you words[c] and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your souls.
Integration means, “behavior, as of an individual, that is in harmony with the environment.
Psychology. the organization of the constituent elements of the personality into a coordinated, harmonious whole.” According to Dictionary.com
We also know that there have been integration of schools, buses, theaters and other public places based on race. How do we find harmony with our environment? Most of our lives is actually an exercise in integration.
We begin as small children integrating walking with our environment so we do not run into things and fall down. Then we learn to go to school and how our behavior is shaped by that environment. After school we move on to relationships with people some friends and some romantic. We learn how to integrate into the world of work so that we can make a living and pay the bills. Along the way most of us learned how to operate motorized vehicles and how the environment dictated the way that we drive depending on the weather, daylight and road conditions. Then we integrated into the role of parents and grandparents, aunts or uncles, the responsibility of caring for others. Sometimes that care included caring for our own parents and grandparents.
At some point in the future we will have to give up most of our possessions, and our homes to move into places that assist with living, or we will die before then. Life is a constant integration of change. We like to say that we don’t like change but our lives on this planet are filled with change. It is the most constant event in our lives. So, we have two choices we can live in fear and feel anxiety about change, or we can embrace change and seek to live as people who know where the world is going.
Scripture moves us to understand what is coming in the future, but at the same time not to get hung up in the details of that change. There is a big push by some folks in the religious and political world who are trying to push the hand of God by advocating for events to occur in our climate and in the geographic region of the Middle East. I do not want to go down the road of the Middle East but I do want to take just a minute to think about climate.
There are some who believe that if we do nothing to protect our environment that we are moving ourselves closer to the end of times. Climate has changed on our planet since the beginning of time that has been recorded either in history or by fossil record. Because the only constant is change, remember? Yet, since the advent of the industrial revolution humanity has increased what is being put into the environment. Air, water and land have been polluted. That is a fact. Some places have been worse than others. We have also learned that we can control some of what we put into the environment by scientific discovery. Yes, we rely on fossil fuels and yes, we can learn to also use more solar and wind fuel. It does not have to be an either or. Yet that is not what some people want us to believe and they use fear and anxiety to win their arguments on both sides of the coin.
The encounter with Jesus at the temple is an example of fear vs. living in harmony with our environment. People are admiring the beauty of the temple and Jesus tells them that a time is coming when the very stones they are looking at will come down. They ask him, “Teacher when is this going to happen?” He tells them that there were be geopolitical events, natural disasters and climate change before all of this occurs. The time of when it happens is not the important thing to Jesus, it is the way we live our lives, caring for one another that is important. We can live with fear and anxiety or we can integrate the changes in our world.
Jesus then tells the disciples that there will be persecution for those who follow him. But that planning and worrying over it will not help, that the Holy Spirit will give them the words and the courage to stand in the face of even death. Jesus promises that not a hair on our heads will be lost because the witness to Christ will result in gaining our souls. How do we get such fait and how do we know it is true.
Again the people of Thessalonica was struggling with what to do with the Advent of the second coming of Christ. It’s like a story about a woman named Mrs. Schlaman. Back in the early 20th century Mrs. Schlaman was a school teacher in a small town in Kansas. A revivalist preacher came to the town and had nightly meetings in a tent. He preached of the need to turn from their sinful ways or else they would burn in hell. He led many altar calls and gave the magic formula for being a born-again Christian. He was received enthusiastically in town and many of Mrs. Schlaman’s student gave their lives to Christ that week. On Thursday in school Mrs. Schlaman told her students that their homework assignment was to study for their weekly spelling test. But the class began to argue with her saying that they didn’t need to study because Jesus was coming again, in fact the preacher said it might be that very night. Mrs. Schlaman had to tell her students that it was possible Jesus might come, but he might not, however they would be a spelling test one way or the other the next day. Many students did not believe her and failed the test.
Thessalonians and Snow Days seems to resound with me. When we are kids or teachers we sit and wait for news of a snow day in the midst of winter. They occur once or twice a year but many times we are disappointed because the world goes on and we have to be ready for it.
Solid foundation of scripture = Living Word
Transformative and integrating power of knowing God and the Living Word
Stiff-necked and hard hearted or knowing when the Lord is speaking
Funeral story of a boy putting father’s ashes into a grave. —God moments
Don’t be hung up here—it’s the endurance that counts. The endurance that saves our souls.
Integration that we have lived through already and the integration that is still to come. Amen.