Coming of the Son of Man

18 Jun

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 1 Advent 27 Nov 2011

Coming of the Son of Man

Mark 13:26 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.

‘Son of man’ (with a lowercase ‘m’) means mortal. (See the Book of Ezekiel.)  I began reading the phrase so often in my research that I started associating it with Dignity.  Dignity and integrity walk hand in hand.  God Himself is doing what He said He would do.  He is acting in His own dignity and integrity.  Jesus was mortal and divine (hence, also ‘Son of God.’)  ‘Son of Man’ is an earthy image.  Clouds are also an earthy image.  In addition, clouds can refer to lofty thoughts.  Angels often work in the border realm of encouraging thought to align with action, the meaning of integrity.

Mark 13:27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

Today is the First Sunday in Advent.  Advent means “the coming or arrival of something important.”  Is it not important to seek God’s integrity?  Is it not important to see the dignity within ourselves?  Is it not important to value dignity and integrity?  These are not terribly lofty ideas, but they are certainly difficult to attain in a world that values contempt over harmony.  In the collision within our beings from all directions, from the Four Winds, as it were, of body, mind, soul, and spirit, we are challenged to our very cores to evaluate what we value and Whom we value.  Are we “hearing” the One Thing our souls are crying out for?  Are we valued for this in community?  Is this not the universal cry?

For centuries the Church has taken the passage from Mark 13 on the “Coming of the Son of Man” literally, where the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.  Then following on the heels of this stark imagery, Jesus brings a soft clue:

Mark 13:28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.

Summer is a time of warmth and brightness with plenty of fruit.  That imagery clashes with a darkened sun, an eclipsed moon, tired stars, and powers in the heavens shaking their fists.  After the time of distress, (which our world has certainly already been going through), our hearts and minds (sun and moon) will be dimmed in somber reflection.  This generation has truly seen all these things take place, just as Jesus said.  (Mk 13:30)  We have fulfilled this scripture as Christ promised.  The stars (of ideas) have been falling from heaven and the powers in the heavens have been shaking. (v 25)  Heaven is rocking!  We don’t need more earthquakes to “wake us up.”  God really is sending out His angels to gather His elect from the four winds (v 27), whether the four winds are psychologically, emotionally, physiologically, and spiritually, or infiltrating the winds of social turbulence, planetary justice, financial security, or medical discoveries.  “His elect” are not superior.  They are more humble.  They listen and value integrity.  They have dignity and self-respect.  “Gathering” does not have to exclusively mean rapture (in the physical sense,) as the Establishment is wont to hound.  The Church has already been rebuked (by me) over the last year-and-a-half to lighten up.  Her heart-mind is somber.  The old ideas and ways of thinking have been falling away like scales dropping from the eyes in cataract surgery, or a dopey person awakening from slumber and rubbing out the eye-sand.  If the physical rapture happened now (as the Establishment proposes), then the ‘Seven Churches’ would not have the opportunity to reconcile and become whole.  As Isaiah said,

“Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”  (Is 64:8)

The Church has already been confronted, reprimanded, and rebuked, and her heart is now ready to be best utilized in the hands of the Potter.  In order for the pot to serve its optimum usefulness, it must be put into the kiln—AND taken out at the proper time.  I’m not saying the Church should burn.  Quite the contrary.  She’s got to be taken out of this oven she has put herself into.  She has been burning in her own fears.  It’s time to bring some cool waters on these burning coals, because the pot can break if it’s left in the oven too long. 

Isaiah 64:1 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence

64:2 as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil– to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
[Emphasis mine.]

The time for God’s “holy fire” of integrity is now.  When Jesus says to “beware, to keep alert” (v 33), to be on the watch (v 34), and to “keep awake” (v 35, 37) He’s not talking about super-tension and hyper-vigilance.  Being on guard is not the same thing as being awake.  Being “awake” is being aligned in our hearts, minds, and spirits in authenticity within our core Selves.  When the core Self “wakes up” to Christ’s leadership, all the language in the world takes on a new meaning.  This can happen in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn (v 35)—and notice the symbolism on multiple levels of each of these.  Each symbol happens in our own lives, as it also happened to Christ and His disciples.  “Awake” means staring face on the Truth within us and seeking a harmonious balance between doing the work He has called us to do and relaxing in His Presence, and not just seeking Him for His presents.  Living in awareness affords us the opportunity to make wise decisions based on peace, common sense, and performed out of compassion.

 

1 Advent                                27 Nov 2011                                     Gospel: Mark 13:24-37

Revised Common Lectionary Year B

Isaiah 64:1-9
64:1 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence–

64:2 as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil– to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!

64:3 When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.

64:4 From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.

64:5 You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.

64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

64:7 There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.

64:8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

64:9 Do not be exceedingly angry, O LORD, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
80:1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth

80:2 before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us!

80:3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

80:4 O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?

80:5 You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure.

80:6 You make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves.

80:7 Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

80:17 But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself.

80:18 Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name.

80:19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

1 Corinthians 1:3-9
1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1:4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus,

1:5 for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind–

1:6 just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you–

1:7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1:8 He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1:9 God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Mark 13:24-37
13:24 “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,

13:25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

13:26 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.

13:27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

13:28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.

13:29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.

13:30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.

13:31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

13:32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

13:33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.

13:34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.

13:35 Therefore, keep awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn,

13:36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.

13:37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

 

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