Mark 13:1-8; 1 Samuel 1:4-20
What large stones, what big buildings they look like they will last forever. This is how this passage starts. Jesus tells the disciples it will not last and they want to know how they'll be able to tell when this shall happen.
This is what we're all looking for isn't it? Bigger is better, longer lasting, isn't it? Bigger numbers, more programs, more people and we seem to have forgotten God's choosing of Israel because they were the smallest. A lot of times big is a fad, one that is here today and gone tomorrow. Big buildings can be taken down by strong winds. Big churches can become empty.
So what is the point of saying this will all pass away? Because Jesus response is not in signs that give a definitive date or time. There have been rumors of wars in all ages and nations still rise against one another. The key is in don't be lead astray. In other words live faithfully. Now living faithfully is a much harder task bit is one we cannot put a whole bunch of descriptives on.
Hannah today gives us a picture of what it means to live faithfully. She is miserable because of the lack of having a child. She is not treated well by the bigger, better wife Peninah because she is still loved by her husband in spite of not being able to bear a child. Hannah goes to the temple to pray.
In that time it was customary to pray aloud. Because Hannah is so distraught she prays silently just moving her lips believing God will hear her heart. Eli comes along and thinks she is drunk and she explains her prayer and he blesses her.
Living faithfully means revealing our hearts. This is a risky thing. Concentrating on a bigger building or crowd is a lot safer than truly revealing ourselves, even to God. Living faithfully is pouring that out as an offering. A lifting up of our helplessness. A realization that we don't live faith on our own. Living faithfully is trusting in things not seen or yet revealed. It is walking in the dark and hoping, praying that God is with us.
Living faithfully is hard because it asks us not to be distracted by bigger, or safer, or more. Living faithfully means following even when it all seems pointless. Even when it seems we have more questions than answers. Even when it leads to death. Because this is placed in Mark just before the entry into Jerusalem, just before the trail, just before the cross.
Living faithfully is the hard work of not getting distracted and living into who we truly are. Living faithfully means taking risks in order to reimagine the church just as these disciples reimagine what it means to be a good Jew. Living faithfully means coming to terms with who we are and who God is in our lives. Can we start to live this way?