Walking in Their Shoes

Hi everyone!  Wow.  Has it really been about 5 months since my last blog post?  Well, things are at “busy as a bee” level still but all is well.  I figured this would be a good way to catch people up since I’m no longer on Facebook.  (And it’s been AMAZING.)  However, I cannot say that I’ve completely given up social media.  I am quite active on Instagram (maggiecarruth).  I’ve actually created my own hashtag: #ThingsBlueWouldSay.  For those who don’t know, Blue is my 95 lb. Golden Retriever/Husky a.k.a. Golden-Huskey wannabe lapdog full of endless joy and love.  I am convinced that there are times that he wants to just blurt things out in human language or English as we call it.  Thus, #ThingsBlueWouldSay captures those moments.  I also use Twitter (look to the right of your screen and you’ll see my streaming tweets) where I tweet about nothing important at all really.  As I digress, I also would like to add that Chris has been back in the States since July and we couldn’t be happier right.  Praise God for keeping him safe while in Africa!

So, below is the sermon I preached this morning (Sunday, 11/18/2012) to the students, and some adults, at Wesley Foundation at Georgia Tech.  We follow the Revised Common Lectionary at Wesley so the text I used was this morning’s Gospel lesson.  Please disregard the underlined, bold, and italicized text from my actual sermon.  Those are markings for my use while I’m actually preaching.  And another-another side note: evidently I have a “preaching voice” but not the kind where you imagine someone with furrowed eyebrows, shaking his/her pointer finger while his/her voice is crescendo-ing to an almost abrasive tone.  No, not that kind of voice.  Hmm, I can’t describe it.  I guess just ask someone who’s heard me preach.

I hope this comes to you well.  I pray you hear the Word of God through my interpretation of the text.  And please feel free to comment/critique/say hi/tell me a joke.

Blessings to all of you!

Maggie

Mark 13: 1-8

“As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 2Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

3When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4“Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 6Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.”

  1. The scenes before today’s scripture tell us of the work of Jesus as a healer and teacher.  And then the events that occur after today’s scripture, in the conclusion of the Gospel of Mark, tell us of the capture, trial, and execution of Jesus.  So here in the middle of Mark we are left with something different: Jesus as the prophet.  Biblical scholars have coined this morning’s text as a type of “apocalyptic literature.”  After reading it you might bet that preachers easily jump to the “end of the world” theme for their sermons.  And that is completely valid.
    1. The word “apocalypse” translated from Greek refers to a revelation of something hidden.  And in religious contexts it is usually a revelation of hidden meaning.  As we are all probably familiar with, the Book of Revelation for example speaks to this genre: apocalyptic literature.  Even though it’s a small chunk, Mark 13 can also be categorized into this genre.
  2. But instead of talking about what we can glean from the scripture when looked at as that type of text and what we should do to prepare for the end of the world, let’s talk about what we can glean from the text as a narrative.  So, I invite y’all to walk with me in the shoes of the disciples.
  3. This text comes directly after the story of the widow’s offering.  Jesus and the disciples leave the temple where that scene just occurred and one of the disciples says to him something like: “Wow!  This temple is ridiculous!  It is so huge!”  Jesus affirms the size of the temple but he says more importantly that it will be destroyed and the great stones they’re looking at will be thrown down to the ground.
    1. Imagine this with me for a moment.  This temple constructed under Herod the Great encompassed about 1/3 of the entire city of Jerusalem.  It was most definitely huge and grand.  But Jesus simply says, “Meh, it’ll be destroyed anyway.”
  4. Then the text suddenly moves to the Mount of Olives where the conversation continues.  Now the Mount of Olives is east of Jerusalem and on top one can see the city of Jerusalem, with the temple sticking out like a sore thumb.  Where Jesus and the disciples were in relation to the temple was 3 to 10 miles away.  So realistically the walk was probably anywhere from 30 minutes (if they were walking quite briskly) to over an hour.
  5. Now the disciples did not respond in a confused or inquisitive manner, but they did respond by asking when.  When would this destruction happen?  What would be the signs that the destruction was about to happen?  Some biblical experts say that these “when” questions were referring to the second coming of Jesus, the rapture, or simply the end of the world.  Some biblical experts say that these “when” questions were referring to the temple actually being destroyed by the Romans, which did happen around 70 AD.  But whether the questions of “when” were referring to the end of the material world or simply the destruction of the temple they were looking at, they wanted to know when.  And that’s ok.
  6. Walking in the shoes of the disciples, what is reflected to us like a mirror is the realization that we also ask “when.”  1When should I go to the dining hall…after class or squeeze it in before so I can take a nap.  2Wait, when will I take my 30 minute nap?  2When am I going to get my test back?  Relevant for UT fans, 3when will Derek Dooley get fired?  Or for Tech fans, 4when will Miami decide to take the bowl ban punishment so Tech can play for the ACC Championship?  (As a side note, I like to call these things #FirstWorldProblems.  People outside this building might ask different “when” questions.  When will I find a job so I can support my two kids?  When will my wife come back home?  When will we eat again?  When will it rain again?
    1. Whether you’re a natural planner or not, we all ask when because we all want to have some control over what happens in our lives.  Being curious about our own and each other’s futures is something that we won’t be able to stop doing cold turkey mainly because when we ask when, it’s because we care.  So I’m not going to suggest we all attempt something that isn’t manageable or doable.  But what is manageable and doable is when we put ourselves in our own kind of quiet place to listen to God.
  7. THE significant moment in this text is what happens from the time Jesus and the disciples leave the temple to when they arrive at the Mount of Olives.  It is somewhat hidden and can be easily overlooked but it is so relevant for us today in our fast-paced lives and culture.  You might realize now that there is nothing said or recorded from that time.  Verse 2 gives us the response by Jesus directly outside of the temple which leads straight into verse 3 which tells us they are all on the Mount of Olives.  There is nothing recorded or said in that time, during that walk, because there wasn’t anything to record or say.
  8. Walk with me in the shoes of the disciples again.  We are leaving this humongous temple made of stones, and some stones are 60 feet long.  And as we leave the temple, we look at this building with appreciating eyes and approving mouths.
    1. One of us says with wide eyes, “Whoa this thing is huge.”  Then Jesus says, “Yeah…but it will be knocked down to the ground.”  And then we walk for a while…..And we think…..We reflect…..
    2. [PAUSE.]
  9. One of my good friends from college was recently going through what many of us have experienced or will experience.  It’s the “What am I going to do with my life?” predicament.  Well, I remember after college she was struggling with trying to decide what she wanted to do with her life.  One day it was this and the next day it was that.  Her mind was all over the place.  She’s also the type of person who is constantly doing something, keeping herself busy.  Well there is this one phone conversation we had in January of 2011 that I’ll never forget.
    1. After we got done catching each other up about our lives and our families’ lives, she paused and then said, “You know how I’ve been trying to figure out where to go in my life?  And my head feels like it’s just spinning on a stick?”
    2. I said, “Yeah, I know you’ve been struggling a little bit with career stuff.”
    3. She said, “Well last night, it was the weirdest thing.  It was around 9 o’clock and something inside me was telling me to go on a run.  And you know I hate running in the cold.  But I layered up and went anyway.  Oh, and I also decided not to use my iPod.”
    4. I responded quickly, “Wow, yeah that is the weirdest thing!”
    5. And she laughed and said, “No, no.  The weirdest thing was that on my run, I think something or someone told me what I need to do…the steps I need to take next.”
    6. After a few moments of silence I asked her somewhat tentatively, “Huh.  No music or anything to distract you?”
    7. She said, “Nope.  Maggie.  I think it’s because I was in a place to just listen.”
    8. [PAUSE.]
    9. In the midst of her running around and trying to figure things out on her own, my friend allowed herself to settle into her kind of quiet place.  And in it, she was comforted in a way that running and crafting and staying busy couldn’t ever give her.
  10. Matthew Henry, a very old biblical scholar, did a ton of exegetical work on the Old Testament and some of the New Testament, mainly the Gospels and the book of Acts.  In his commentary on this passage, he believes that the disciples were in serious confusion after Jesus’ response.
    1. But I refute that.  I believe that the Disciples actually understood Jesus’ response.  In the time it took to get to the Mount of Olives – whether it took 30 minutes or over an hour – they intentionally took the time to reflect on what Jesus had just said.  And because they let their hearts and minds marinate on it, they understood what he meant.   There is a sense of trust that we see from their “when” questions because they didn’t say, “Umm, Jesus.  What did you say?  I don’t understand.  Are you sure?”
  11.  Walking in the shoes of the disciples, we realize that we are the disciples.  Yes, we do ask when.  All the time.  That part of the passage is like a mirror for us.  But also walking in the shoes of the disciples, we are called to have one-on-one time to let God speak to us.  I encourage you to try and find those moments.  Steve preached about this intentional time a month or so ago.  And I repeat that message again this morning because it can be so life-giving.  It was for my friend.  And maybe y’all have experienced the fruit that these moments with God can bear.  When those moments happens, whether they are developed intentionally or organically, hold onto those moments, even if it seems like it’s only a minute in a whole day.  And when we want to say to ourselves in a deep sigh, “Ahhh, I can breathe,” go further and let God speak to you.
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