Keep looking up … The biggest challenge of Advent

The Advent reading today from Luke 21 comes with Jesus speaking.  One the one hand, Jesus says Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies.  He seems to be speaking of very imminent events … events right around the corner.  How dreadful that day will be, he says.  (In fact, the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Roman army.)  But then almost in the same breath, he changes his thought and speaks of the end of time when He will return in the clouds with power and great glory.  

As I read and reread Jesus words, I thought of what my niece’s 2-year-old son says to me, “What are you talking about?”  After sitting quietly for a while, wondering what Jesus might have been talking about, I thought the Spirit of God said, “Here’s what I want you center on, Don.  … Lift up your head, for your redemption is drawing near.”

So…

* You whose eyes are heavy with tears at all the pain in the world, look up…

* You who are burdened with guilt, look up…

* You who are dazzled by the things of this world, look up…

Your redemption is near!

Here’s the reading.  What does it say to you?

 Luke 21:20-28 (New International Version, ©2010)

   20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
   25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

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