St Luke 21: 29 – 37 Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’
Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.
Reflection That generation has passed away (Jesus did say that no one knew the day or the hour, not even him), but Jesus’ words have not passed away. They have lasted two thousand years and they speak to us today, as much as they spoke to Jesus’ contemporaries.
Each time we read them, they have fresh significance. The words that sprang out to me today were those about being weighed down by dissipation and drunkenness. No, not because they particularly apply to me, but because I’ve never thought that they did.
I’ve mostly read those few words as addressed to those, possibly new converts, used to dissipation and drunkenness. However, we could equally read them as applying to folk who are weighed down by the dissipation and drunkenness that they see around them.
Could that be us? Fed up with a world in which so much seems to be going wrong. There is famine and climate change; there are wars and refugees; folk are burdened with debt or dying of cancer and to cap it all, those who have least problems and most worldly goods are wasting their lives in dissipation and drunkenness, rather than trying to help. That is the path to despair, disillusionment and loss of hope. No wonder Jesus warned his disciples against it. It is so easy to moan, to criticise and to let the negatives so dominate our lives that we lose our faith – our trust in the promises of God.
That is why we must keep on celebrating Easter, as we do every Sunday, even in Lent. God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life. We can have faith in such a God and hope that God’s promises will be fulfilled.
Prayer Living and loving God, Help us not to be weighed down by dissipation and drunkenness. Help us to focus on your love, to trust in your promises, and to do what we can to bring closer the time when your kingdom comes. Thanks be to God Amen
The Revd Jacky Embrey, Bolton and Salford Missional Partnership