MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on the icons of security and what they mean to us in the whole scope of things. What do we need? What is true? What is false? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for the 34th Sunday of Ordinary Time to find out. Please read Luke 21:5-19. For Audio, “read more” below. #GreatPreaching #Prayer #Sermons #Homilyhelper #Heaven #OneWorldTradeCenter #TempleInJerusalem
(The audio says 34th Sunday. Please disregard. It is for the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time).
MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 11/17/2013 The 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 21:5-19
We, in Chicagoland, are a little competitively disappointed that One World Trade Center beat out the former Sears Tower as the tallest building in the United States this past week. When we think of One World Trade, we cannot help but think of September 11 and the former twin towers we thought would always be on the skyline of New York. It is a little unsettling when I think of it again. I believe what leaves us unsettled about September 11 is that the wealth and privilege we assumed would always be there are left vulnerable by outside forces willing to take it away at any cost.
What other symbols of wealth, power and prestige were there than the twin towers of the World Trade Center at the time? The fact that the World Trade Center was located in the United States spoke volumes as to the influence we have as a country. At least now when we see pictures of New York City’s sky line, we are no longer struck, not just by the loss of human life, but by the absence of our symbol of financial power and world influence. Our financial power and world influence are exactly why it is that the Twin Towers were attacked.
Similarly, when the Hebrews walked up to the Temple mount, they saw an impressive sight. Even though occupied by Rome, Jerusalem was a great city. And at the highest point in Jerusalem was the Temple Mount.
The Temple itself was covered with plates of gold. When the Sun would come up, you would have to squint due to its glare. The Temple’s architecture spoke of power and security for the Jews in Jerusalem and throughout the world. It was the place. It was their stability. It was a symbol of how their worship would continue seemingly forever in that place.
So, it is no surprise that the disciples were admiring the building when they were with Jesus as we read in this passage from Luke. Their admiration of the Temple’s power and prestige moved them to make a rather innocent remark. A rather innocent question leads to an ominous answer. The World Trade Center of the Jewish community in the days of Jesus would be destroyed, says Jesus.
It is an incredible claim. It is a statement that lays out how the hope the Jews had in the power and wealth exhibited by the Temple were things that were not to be trusted. Power and wealth were not to be trusted, says Jesus, because they could be taken away. By the time that St. Luke’s Gospel was published, the prophecy of Jesus had come to pass. By the time St. Luke’s Gospel was published, the Temple had been felled by the Roman Empire. All sense of security in the Temple was gone, much like our sense of security in the World Trade Center Towers.
In the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack and the countless other tragedies we have faced since then, the Boston Marathon attacks being the latest of note, we usually soak in our vulnerability in the face of those disasters. Then we see an amazing thing happen. We have see church attendance across the country rise. We notice a change in the complexion of the conversations and questions in television interviews. If not for anything else, the losing our iconic symbols of wealth and security leave us knowing that there is evil in the world, but there is also incredible goodness in it as well. It also leaves us reevaluating what is truly important to us.
Don’t we all spend time reevaluating what we are doing with our lives? Don’t we all spend a little more time with those we love? Don’t we all say ‘I love you’ a little more? Don’t we spend a little more time worshiping God in our homes? Don’t we read our Bibles more and pray more after disasters that hit us close to home?
On Sept. 10, 2001, it was silly and seemed like a waste of time to stop and contemplate God. Why should we? The economy was slowing a little, but we had everything and were not yet satisfied with what we had. Worshiping God was a silly endeavor that only ate into the time for what we thought we really needed. The worship of God seemed like a fleeting thing. It was good for a moment, but had no lasting value in the world of material satisfaction.
On Sept. 11, 2001 that all changed. What seemed fleeting were the mighty material towers of the World Trade Center and all they stood for. The financial success and all that is around us seemed like it was what was fleeting. What we talk about now is all that loss of life from that tragedy and all that have followed. The possibility of losing all that life makes us come face to face with the eternal. We found it is only in what cannot be seen readily that there is stability and substance.
Now that Sept. 11 is a distant memory for most of our children, we are still worshiping the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Now that there is no longer updates of the mass killing in New York scrolled across the bottom of our television sets, God is still be there, stable and sound. When we have been reassured by God once again and leave him in the dust, He will still remain.
That it the truth about God. He remains, no matter how high or low we get. When we are in trouble and doing well, God still remains. He is still active in our lives–whether or not we recognize it.
The illustration that Jesus uses about the Temple reminds me of Christian churches. Today’s churches are like the Temple in the time of Jesus. Today the culture around us allows us to continue. We have heat and are taken care of well. But tomorrow, will Christian churches still be standing?
There is a lot of talk about “tolerance.” What really is meant is “tolerance” for certain views. Usually when people speak of “tolerance” they mean that we are tolerant of people who do not hold Judeo-Christian morals. My concern is that in our world, the philosophy of secularism, for all its talk of tolerance, is very intolerant of Christianity and other religions that stands firm in their convictions. Will religious children be allowed to pray and read their Bible at lunchtime? Or, will they be discouraged from “influencing” other children as an alternative moral system is taught at School?
My friend, the Rev. Clint Spence, of North Carolina, used to tell us that he thought our children would be persecuted for being Christians before they died. I used to think he was wrong, but now, I am not so sure. Everywhere I turn, basic values of Christianity are being looked at as too rigid, outdated and intolerant (the worst accusation anything can have). I believe that those religions which are guided to live by a moral code are the most at risk in being persecuted. What will we do if we are persecuted for our faith? What if your building was destroyed by others because they thought you too intolerant? Where would you find your strength?
It is a scary proposition if we are wedded to our material things. If we are wedded to the house we live in or to the stuff we have, then there is a problem. For when our material security is taken away from us, we are in the same mixed up state as the country is when monuments like the World Trade Center, or when our personal Temple in our own Jerusalem are destroyed. But if we remember that it is God who is and was and is to come, then we know that even if all of our material possessions and material rights are taken away, our faith in God cannot be taken away. Even if we are killed, we are still alive in the kingdom of our God.
The sad thing about September 11 and all the other tragedies that followed, is that it reminded us that there is evil in the world. Maybe the one good thing about September 11 is that it reminds us that all those towers we build to our honor are just Babel and can be destroyed. Maybe the destruction of our Temples in our Jerusalem can remind us that what is really important is our faith and worshiping God Almighty. If God is our focus, then we can endure the latest tragedy and we can endure persecution if it should come. Amen? Amen.
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