The Advent Door Reading Plan
Day 2 Reading: Mark 13:24-37
Mark 13:24-26 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.
Revelation 6:12-14 (NRSV)
When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and there came a great earthquake; the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree drops its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll rolling itself up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
The signs of Christ’s second coming at the end of the age are mirrored in the passages from Mark and Revelation. They include a departure of light – from the sun, moon, stars. Falling and shaking accompany their exits. The faithful note these signs, remaining alert and awake for Christ’s return in glory.
Here at the outset of Advent, I have been wishing for an easier start to the season, for words that would welcome us into these weeks with a more graceful sense of hospitality. This passage doesn’t so much beckon us across the threshold as it throws open a door, tosses a cup of cold water in our face to wake us, and shoves us through.
- Jan Richardson, Through the Advent Door
This passage reads like the script of the next blockbuster-end-of-the-world thriller. Eclipse! Earthquake! Apocalypse! You can hear the people screaming as they run from the CGI buildings crashing around them; the Dolby/THX so loud it rattles your bones.
It sounds like fun for a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon, but this isn’t a coming attraction. Christ is really coming, so I need to take myself out of my comfy movie seat and place myself right in the middle of the action. Now it feels like a whole different story.
What kind of a story? Horror? Tragedy?
It’s actually a love story.
Jesus’ vision is not about destruction but re-creation. It’s an invitation to let go of what has been and accept what is, to receive what is coming. Whenever our world shakes or changes, or needs to, we allow ourselves to be reborn. We let go of outward things and go deeper to the core of our being, where God gives us new life moment by moment. God enters our world and our lives and our hearts through the cracks and broken places, and changes everything.
- Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Your Redemption is Drawing Near
We live in the in-between time; the time between Eden and the end of the age discussed in this passage. Eden was beautiful, perfect. Humans, animals, nature and God living together in harmonious community. Then, through human disobedience and short sighted decisions, it all came a tumblin’ down. The Fall impacted everything- our relationship with God, with each other, with creatures and creation, and with our very self.
The goodness of God’s making was now broken, bent, and disordered. No amount of human wisdom, money, or altruism could set it right. Only God can. The compassion and mercy of God will not to leave us and the rest of creation this way forever. Our God is making all things new, and like an expectant mother, God will one day bring that work to completion. That one day is the end of the age, at the second coming- the second advent – of Christ.
In this passage, Jesus isn’t relating something frightening or catastrophic, but rather a miraculous blessing. New life requires birth and birth is a painful, forceful process. The stars falling and the heavens shaking are actually birth pangs- the contractions, pushing, and bearing down of creation. It is the labor of the Maker bringing forth a New Heaven and Earth from our broken world. God shares this love story with us so we will be alert and ready for its arrival.
How is God inviting me to help midwife this great gift of new creation?
My Lord, what a morning;
My Lord, what a morning;
Oh, my Lord, what a morning,
when the stars begin to fall.
- African American Spiritual
This year’s Advent reflections are inspired by the e-book Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas [Kindle Edition] by author and artist Jan Richardson. In the style of a classic Advent calendar, Jan offers twenty five reflections, each with an original piece of art. Consider this your invitation to join me and Jan on this journey to Christmas. – Lisa <><
For more information on the Christian season of Advent, click here
For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.