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Five Ways Into Sunday’s Scripture: Live By Me, Not By Fear

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”

They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.

“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

Luke 21:5–19

Persecution of Christians had already begun when Luke was writing his Gospel, and it is likely that his first readers had seen the Jewish temple and the city of Jerusalem destroyed by the Roman armies. These events must have shaken their faith to the core.

In Chapter 21, Luke reminds the beleaguered community that Jesus had predicted all of this. Moreover, Jesus had predicted ongoing grief for his followers, as the Kingdom of God confronted the kingdoms of this world. How were they to deal with it? Luke encourages them to be faithful to Jesus by witnessing to their faith, trusting in the assurance of Jesus’s support and looking to him as a role model.

We can’t easily make sense of Jesus’s harsh apocalyptic portrayal today, and an exclusively literal interpretation misses an important message: there comes a time in the spiritual life where one can choose either to despair or to endure.

In our own anxious times, choosing endurance is countercultural. As with early Christians, we are called to follow Jesus in our own troubled context of unrest, war, prejudice, oppression, and chaos. How do we remain rooted and grounded — hopeful and steady? It may feel horrible and unwanted but, for the faithful, we envision a different world. We understand our lives to be in God. And we do not fear.

—Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones

The Way It Is by William Stafford offers a lifeline (a thread, really) to reliance on God amidst chaos and tragedy, especially in the lines, “Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread.”

Autumn by Rainer Maria Rilke reminds us that despite “all this falling” there is One holding us, infinitely and softly. 

“In the biblical concept of perseverance there is an element of active resistance in the face of opposition. It is inspired by confidence and hope in God.”

This slideshow pairs artworks of various genres with passages from each of today’s readings.

God Will Work It Out (feat. Naomi Raine & Israel Houghton) reminds us that, not only will God work it out, but God is working right now.

An eco-exegesis means that scripture readings are interpreted through a green lens using the principles of ecological theology. “Jesus’s apocalyptic discourse assures us that there is a power that is greater, longer-lasting, and more effective than violence against Creation and people… the power of truth, honesty, discernment, advocating for and protecting the vulnerable, resisting authoritarian oppression, and casting a vision for the Realm of God.”  

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Coming Soon

Sundays through November 20 | 10am
Discovery: Creation, EarthCare and Environmental Justice
The Bible has a lot to say about our interconnectedness to Creation and stewardship of the earth. This week, hear from Dr. Ellen Davis, Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School, in a discussion on the Bible and ecology.

Fridays, Nov. 11–Dec. 16 | Online 
Trinity Book Club
Trinity Book Club meets weekly to discuss the mysteries of the Christian faith through the medium of literature. This session, we’ll read Art and Faith: A Theology of Making by Makoto Fujimura. 

Monday, November 14 | Online 
Environmental Justice Ministry Group
A faith-based group that examines, increases awareness, and acts around the most pressing problems of climate change and environmental justice. At this meeting, we’ll hear from Megan Wolff of Beyond Plastics on plastic pollution.

January 6–8 | Trinity Retreat Center
Hide & Seek: Reading the Song of Songs with Poets
No book of the Bible maps the landscape of love — human and divine — like the Song of Songs. For centuries the Song’s depiction of love’s push-and-pull has fed Christian devotion. Unsurprisingly, some of the ancient poem’s best interpreters have been poets. On this retreat with Nate Wall, we’ll venture into the Song of Songs accompanied by Christian poets old and new.