Grace and Peace to you, Dear Church,
from God and from our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen
The month of November reminds me of my grandmothers. Both would have celebrated birthdays this month and both would be over 100 years old. Today I want to share with you a bit about my Grandma Schroeder, her name was Violet. Grandma Schroeder did not graduate from high school as there was not one for her to graduate from. Instead she went until fifth or six grade then stayed at home to help with the other children in the family. Grandma Schroeder was a hard working, mother of eight very different and very stubborn (I mean determined) children. She was a terrific gardener and spectacular baker of sugar cookies. Grandma Schroeder remembered not only every one of her children’s birthdays but her more than 25 grandchildren’s and even more great children’s birthdays.
I’m thinking of Grandma Schroeder today because of one line in this gospel reading. Verse 26 begins, “Then they will see…”. Because of life’s circumstances there were certain words Grandma Schroder just could not pronounce; one of those words was “aluminum” and the other was “blurry.” I don’t recall how Grandma Schroeder pronounced “aluminum” but I do remember how she pronounced, “blurry.” She always said, “bleary.”
This year, 2020, was supposed to be the year of clarity. The year of acuity. After all 2020 vision is perfect vision. Instead this year has been anything but! 2020 has not only been a year of blurry vision it’s been a year of “bleary” vision!
This reading from the Gospel of Mark invites us to see beyond the blur as we ponder, not only where do we see God’s work of grace in this reading, but where do we see God’s work of grace today.
This gospel scene toke place on the Mount of Olives. The disciples had just commented about the large stones and the large buildings of the temple. Jesus responded, “Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” The disciples then asked Jesus what that day of ‘destruction' would be like and if there would be warning signs. That was when Jesus told them these things.
In his words about stars, fig trees, and a man on a journey Jesus said, “Beware, keep alert, and keep awake.” Jesus described: the darkened sun, falling stars (not the pretty kind) and the shaking of the heavens. All of these events would bring about the very destruction of the center of their lives and their faith, the temple. The disciples failed to see God’s activity in the world so frequently that Jesus needed to remind them to keep alert and to keep awake.
I wonder if the disciples could see these visions clearly in their minds eye or were their visions “bleary…”
Have you ever experienced blurry vision? You know the cloudiness when you first awake, before you rub your eyes and wash your face. Or maybe it’s not your eyes at all, maybe its the blurry vision of trying to see through early morning fog or the smoke of a late night bon fire. All of these experiences accurately describe the “bleary” vision of what God is up to in the world this year. Whatever work of grace God is trying to reveal to us, it’s been awfully difficult to see and even more difficult to notice in the world around. That is why Jesus told the disciples to keep alert and to keep awake. We notice things when we are alert and we can see clearly when we are awake. I don’t know about you but I’m ready for God to dispel my “bleary” vision.
These days, my prayers sound more like, “Come on now, God!” Rather than, “Thank you God.” If I could only see God’s work of grace more clearly maybe then I would know the Kingdom is coming soon. Maybe then I would be prepared. Maybe then I would keep awake. Maybe then I would stop asking God for signs.
I admire my Grandma Schroeder for her ability to, not just make lemonade but limoncello out of lemons. (I stole that quote from somewhere. I don’t remember where). The ability to see Jesus through the blur, the clouds, and the fog, is a witness to our faith. The ability to trust in God even when you cannot see because your vision is “bleary” is a testament to the hope of our God.
This Advent season we are the faithful watchers with “bleary” eyes. Together we struggle to see how God’s Kingdom is revealed both in the ordinary work of ministry and in the extraordinary. What prepares us to see God work of grace, God’s Kingdom work, in this broken world? Eyes of faith and eyes of hope. Church, may you see through the eyes of faith as you watch and wait this Advent Season.
Peace to you,
Pastor Mary Ann Siefke