Taking the long view. Foresight? Perspective? It’s hard to find a word that can sum up the attribute Mark 13:1-8 invites us to consider. In the story, the disciples are wowed by the seeming permanence and strength of the temple building. But Jesus says it won’t last. He is asking us to look beyond the moment toward a future realization of the kin-dom that is coming. Note that he isn’t asking us to ignore the moment, to be blind to the realities of the world as it is right now. But he is asking us to not put all our hope in what we see and to work for what is coming but is not yet here.
This is an opportunity here almost at the end of the Christian year (since it all starts with Advent) for us to remind ourselves that we are people looking forward to a promise. It need not be a longing for heaven, but more a hoping for the kin-dom to come on earth as it is in heaven, just like we pray each week. Part of our worship experience week after week is to open ourselves up to the vision God has for all of creation, which includes us!
We should pray for the ability to see beyond the temporary troubles of this world and discover how to begin building a foundation that leads to eternity. What do we emphasize? Where do we put our hopes? How does my brokenness not define me and allow me to see a wholeness I can’t yet feel? We pray for healing every time we gather – for ourselves and for others. And God wills healing in every case; we grasp that truth wholeheartedly. But we won’t always see that healing happen in the way we think would be best. Yet we pray with hope and with confidence.
We offer up this world in all its current messiness, knowing that there is a better way to be in community. And we invite the Spirit to work that better way into the community that we are becoming, the disciples that we are being made into, so that we become the light on the hill for the rest of the world. We tear down the barriers of division, the fences of hate, and we live hospitality with our whole being. We learn to look beyond to see and claim a life that matters.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.