Daily Lectionary Readings for Year A
Parousia. It's a Greek word that means the time of Christ's return. There was an understanding directly following the ascension that Jesus would appear again. In this second coming, the world would be transformed into the Reign of God where peace would prevail. Those who followed Jesus were sent into a hostile world to call people into repentance and preach the Gospel. They went expecting to be persecuted. The words of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew this morning encourage those who are being persecuted to flee to the next town. And, before they had fled to all the towns in the area, the Son of Man would return.
Of course, in many ways, the early Christians discovered the Parousia had been delayed. Jesus did not immediately return. The city of Jerusalem fell under siege and was destroyed in the year 70.
It became important to write down the oral history and preserve the Gospel for the generations who would follow. The Gospel of Mark was written around the year 70. Matthew and Luke were written around the year 85. And, the Gospel of John was written down around the year 100.
Try reading the Gospels through the lens of a violent suppression of a peasant uprising. Even in this context, the Gospels point us toward God who overwhelms evil with love. Jesus sends the twelve out with his peace. He encourages his followers to persevere through the suffering. God has a plan for this world that is bigger than what we see through our windows. We need to work for it through repentance, forgiveness, grace, peace, the pursuit of justice, and blessings.
We are not alone in this chaotic and life-giving work. In many ways, Christ has returned through the Holy Spirit. We are joined in the world by the presence of God who equips us all to build up a new creation by loving our neighbor.
One way we can do this is to work to dismantle racism throughout the world. Tune in today at 1 pm on Facebook for a United Methodist Service of Lament. Then, let's wade into the suffering with the hope and assurance that we carry with us Christ's peace and love.