Sunday’s Gospel reading is either Mark 13.1-8 (Church of England) or Mark 13.24-32 (Roman Catholic / Revised Common Lectionary). In each case, the tone is apocalyptic. Mark 13 begins with Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the Temple and of ‘wars and rumours of wars’, and ends with another prophecy – of Jesus’ return in glory.
In the midst of these dramatic, disturbing prophecies, Jesus offers three significant pieces of advice to his disciples.
– they are not to be alarmed (v7) or led astray (v5): whatever happens, God is sovereign. Disciples need to keep their focus on, and trust in, him;
– they are not to speculate as to what the future holds (v.32). Trusting in God means not reading the Bible as if it offered us coded guidance about when the world will end, or detailed predictions about the future. Human time, and its consummation, are in the hands of God alone. The disciple’s task is to be faithful – not to second-guess providence;
– they are to to be prepared and to be watchful for signs of God’s activity. Instead of trying to see into the future, they are attend to what the Holy Spirit is up to here and now.
Discipleship is not about running away from the world in which God has placed us. God has placed us in present, not the future; on earth, not in heaven. Our task is to be co-workers with God, embodying and proclaiming his justice, his peace and his love here and now. We can do this, not because we know exactly what the future holds, but because we know the most important thing about it. The future, like the present, is in the hands of a God of justice, peace and – above all – love.
Pray also for the Centre’s partner churches in The East London Communities Organisation (TELCO), as they prepare for their annual assembly this Wednesday. Pray especially for the work being done to secure a long-term local legacy from the Olympic Park – including affordable, community-owned housing.