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Advent Reflections: Jesus' perfect words
By James Sholl
Nov 27, 2018
James Sholl is a 3rd year MDiv Pioneer student. He loves Jesus, people, cooking, and board games--in that order. Below, he shares his reflection for the first week of Advent on the theme of hope, based on Luke 21:25-36.
Passage for reflection:
The Coming of the Son of Man
25 “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. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28 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
29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Exhortation to Watch
34 “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, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 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.” (NRSV)
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away
It’s a curious thing that the theme of "hope" is derived from verses that do not exactly seem to be overflowing with it. As I have dwelled on them for the last few days I have found myself digging deeper and deeper into just what "hope" is.
"Abandon hope all ye who enter here" hangs ominously at the entrance to Dante’s Hell. Despite playing second fiddle to love in 1 Corinthians, it is a lack of hope that is the greater punishment for the damned. Studies have shown that in the Nazi concentration camps, for all the cruelties visited upon the victims, those with hope had a significantly better chance of survival than those for whom all hope had gone.
The great hope that I find in these verses is: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." In a world that seems to be overheating, melting, groaning, and bleeding, there is great comfort in the fact that Jesus’ beautiful words stand forever.
Jesus’ perfect words to the least, the last, and the lost. To adulterers, tax-collectors, whores, these all knew a hope beyond their wildest imaginations thanks to Jesus’ message of radical inclusion. A radical inclusion that would see breath and life stolen from him on the cross. But still, a hope remained. But still, those least, last, and lost have a friend, defender and beloved in Jesus; a hope that will not pass away.
When hope is lost, we pray that we would find our hope in you. And when hope is found, we pray that we can lead others to it. Thank you for being the hope that does not pass away.
In your name we pray,