Saturday of the Week of Advent I
Then Jesus said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilence, and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you… This will be a time for you to bear testimony.” — Luke 21:5-19
Lutherans have not dwelt much on “end times.” We have trusted Jesus’ words that no one knows the day or hour—but only the Father in heaven—so we are to be about his work now, while we have time.
It’s hard to hear Jesus’ words, then, without thinking that Jesus may be speaking about “end times” to get us ready for times such as these! This passage sounds very much like our day and age. And not just when he speaks of nation against nation, and earthquakes and famine. Our Lord seems to be speaking directly to us when he speaks of persecution. Never have we in North America experienced such opposition for our faith, just as we have never faced Christians being tortured and put to death for their faith in our day. But our Lord knew it would happen—in the first century, but also in the 21st!
And what does Jesus tell us about this? This will be a time for us to bear testimony! This is not a time for us to hide behind closed doors; to lock ourselves inside our well-stocked “panic room” in the basement; to distance ourselves from places and people who might challenge our Christian faith. Rather, this is time for us to bear testimony! For finally, our Lord says, “By your endurance you will gain your lives.”
Pr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, while imprisoned by the Nazis, wrote, “The day will come… when people will once more be called to speak the word of God in such a way that the world is changed and renewed… in a language proclaiming that God makes peace with humankind and that God’s kingdom is drawing near.” (Letters and Papers from Prison)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, give us courage and strength to boldly testify to the truth! Amen.
Advent Action: Pray today for those who are being persecuted for their faith, that they may stand fast in the time of trial.
The 2016 Advent Devotional, based on Year I of the LBW and written by Pastor David Wendel, is available for download/printing in two formats and as a daily text/email message.