The Scripture Reading is Mark 13:1-8, 24-37. (Though I do encourage folks to read the whole chapter instead of just the beginning and ending verses)
The Sermon Title is The End is Near!
Early Thoughts: Is that the image those words bring to mind? The annoying street preacher telling passers-by to repent, to "turn or burn"?
And yet this week we stand within sight of the end. The end of Lent. The end of the walk to Jerusalem. The end of the earthly ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. With Mark 14:1 (the verse immediately following our reading for this week) the series of events leading to betrayal and trial and execution begins. Indeed the end is near.
But also the end of an age, the end of "how things are". And that can be a terrifying thing to face.
Jesus warns his friends that changes are coming, changes that will shake the earth, that will bring destruction and so they should be ready. (It sort of reminds me of the end of every episode of the Dead Dog Cafe Comedy Hour where we were told to "Stay calm! Be brave! Wait for the signs!".) The end is coming. Might be imminent, might be near, might be a few years off. But it is coming, so be ready -- keep awake.
But it isn't really the end. Or at least not only the end. It is also a beginning.
One age ends so that a new age, the age of the Kingdom, can begin. Some things need to end so that God's promise and hope can be fulfilled. Which is not necessarily any less frightening....
In just a few weeks we will stand and proclaim that Christ has been raised. We will sing alleluias and announce the beginning of the new age. But in order for that to happen there also has to be an end. The path to New Life is through death and turmoil. What needs to end so that God's beginnings can take root?