For most people, change doesn’t come easily or naturally. The reason is because of all the energy and personal investment we have put into what is in the now. Thanksgiving is next week and imagine the troubles inflicted upon the family to change what has been done for a generation or longer. Congregations are notoriously slow in making changes to long invested programs that at one time were quite meaningful. The mantra “Make America Great Again” is a reaction to changes taking place. The assumptions of employment and culture served well…for some. The rewriting of these assumptions is not being received well…for some. When change comes to what we have heavily invested ourselves, we don’t accept it well.
Jesus and the disciples were walking past the great Temple in Jerusalem. Yes, it was an impressive building. Yes, it was made with huge stones that gave the feeling of endurance. Yes, the Temple stood as a strong visual reminder of the presence of God with his people and promises made long ago. At the same time, they were a conquered people. A heavy investment was made in the Temple and the Scriptures that helped them define what it meant to be a Jew in those days.
So when walking past the Temple the disciples pointed out with pride to the Temple and the huge rocks that made up its structure. Jesus responded that it won’t last. In reality none of the things we invest ourselves will last. Nations will rise against nations with wars being waged. Earthquakes and famine will challenge our struggle for life. Jesus called these ‘birth pangs’. These are pains of a new life being born that will include all of creation. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the bringing of that new life.
Knowing that what we have worked hard to create in life won’t last, isn’t all that comforting. So much of the fighting and hating that mar our land today is about maintaining what we have made, refusing to admit that they are as temporary as we are. Yet, Jesus talks of birth pangs and start of a new life. The challenge for us is to look beyond the large stones we have formed to the new life being born around us in Christ Jesus. Then, we might get a chance to work toward what is lasting.