In today’s Gospel of Luke, Jesus paints a picture of Jerusalem under siege. The imagery is stark, dire, and horrific such that the only option is to flee. Even the natural elements are affected as there will be “signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,” as well as “the roaring of the sea and the waves” (Lk 21:25). Yet, even in the midst of the appearance that all is lost, today’s reading ends: “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand” (Lk 21:27-28).
There are certain things that are within our control to influence and to effect in such a way to bring about change, but in much of our life much is out of our control. No matter how much we seek safety and security in this world, it is never guaranteed. The Bible from Genesis to Revelation offers those experiences of the ones who have encountered the ultimate security even in the midst of the most tragic of circumstances. Our solid foundation and source of being is God.
We can be more assured of God’s presence and reality in our life if we do not wait until calamities come before we turn to him for help. Answering his invitation to develop a relationship with him now is not a benefit for God, for he is self sufficient in and of himself, and does not need us. Saying yes to the invitation of the Holy Spirit helps us to experience that we are not alone in our life, through the ups and down, the good times and the bad. As we build our relationship with God over time and experience, this relationship becomes more real and tangible to us.
I remember an experience about half way through my first year of teaching. I was being observed by my mentor as I taught a math lesson to the first graders under my care and guidance, yet nothing seemed to be working, the attention of the students was gone. I remember turning to look at the clock, and having this sinking feeling that I could not do this. For that brief moment, I wanted to turn over my keys, ask my observer to take over, and head out the door never to return and look for a new career.
Yet, from the moment I turned back from looking at the clock to the students before me a peace settled in my soul. I continued the lesson, finished out the day, and continue to teach eighteen years later. I know many of you reading this have and/or are going through much worse trials and struggles. Yet I invite you to arise with confidence today.
We have an advocate, Jesus the Christ, who understands our plight and is present with us, providing guidance, support, and strength so that we can endure, even when we may feel alone, lost, or besieged on every side. Our security comes from our faith and hope in our relationship with Jesus, such that we will not only endure, not only survive, but we will thrive, so to be empowered to recognize our dignity as well as respect the dignity of others.
Photo of card with the painting of Lisette de Winne titled, “Our Greatest Contribution” – commissioned by Selection Research, Inc. – which also states: “Our greatest contribution is to be sure there is a teacher in every classroom who cares that every student, every day, learns and grows and feels like a real human being.” The goal I aspire to each day.