A stained glass window depicting an angel with a trumpet in the Chapel of All Saints in Trinity Church

Five Ways Into Sunday’s Scripture: Awake and Present with God

LUKE 21:25–36

Jesus said, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

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 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.”

This Sunday’s passage centers on times of trouble — trouble in the present and trouble to come. Jesus warns his disciples that with his incarnation and mission, a new era has begun. While the birthing of this new era will come with birth pains — “fear and foreboding” — there will also be, at the end of a time of suffering, a new season of “redemption.” Jesus does not want us to be afraid. Rather, he calls for us to be alert. How do we stay awake and present with God, even as the difficulties of this world continue to spin around us? Jesus notes that we must be “on guard so that are hearts are not weighed down.” We are to trust in God’s purposes for us and for the world, so that even when it feels like the end of the world, we know that God is in control. —Summerlee Staten


For an illustrated video overview of apocalyptic literature in the Bible, check out the Bible Project’s theological interpretation.


“Apocalypse is for the sake of birth not death,” writes Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM.


James Tissot’s painting of “The Vine Dresser and the Fig Tree” at the Brooklyn Museum gives us a visual of Jesus’s parable of the summer fig tree.


Johnny Cash reads Luke 21.


Sandra McPherson revisits the idea of “Eschatology” in her poetry.

Coming Up

The next Discovery series — Spirituality, Christian Identity and Leadership: The Worldview of Desmond Tutu — begins Sunday, December 5. The Very Rev. Dr. Michael Battle, Professor of Church and Society and Director of the Desmond Tutu Center at The General Theological Seminary, joins the Trinity Community for a three-week series based on his new book, Desmond Tutu: A Spiritual Autobiography of South Africa’s Confessor.

Contemplative Practice with Poetry meets Wednesdays at 6:30pm. Join for a practice of guided meditation and contemplative reflection with poets and artists, for mutual spiritual support and growth, led by spiritual directors John Deuel and Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones.