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Watch and Pray

An Advent reflection for Wednesday, December 6th by Tori Mack


Lectionary reading for 12/06/2023: Psalm 79; Micah 5:1-5a; Luke 21:34-38

Selected passage for reflection: Luke 21:34-38


Read

Luke 21:34-38 New International Version

34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

37 Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, 38 and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.


Reflect

I am a seminary student, and this semester, I am taking a course called Christian Ethics. Currently, we are engaging with topics such as global poverty and migration. The readings are academically challenging, but listening to the real-life experiences of people is more so. While it is necessary to hold those stories close, I can't deny the challenge of doing this. Each issue is so layered and seems to be an impossible system of evil to undo. My mind is filled with questions such as,


What are the answers to global poverty?

What role does capitalism play?

What role has the church played?

What should we do as Christians?


I lamented at the depravity of humanity's heart and began to feel overwhelmed to the point of feeling unempowered. How could we affect change that would alleviate the unnecessary suffering of millions around the globe?

What happens when a Christian feels powerless?


These verses from Luke offer us a way to hold the tensions and sufferings in our world.

Jesus is telling us to be careful because he already knows what it feels like to hold the sufferings of others. But also, he knows that we may be tempted to care only about ourselves.


Jesus is warning the disciples of impending danger and destruction that would be coming.

As I ponder the church's future and its influence in the world, I am reminded that the coming kingdom of God will affect us all. Some will be prepared, and some will not. I find comfort in Jesus' instruction and warning. Watch out, be guarded, and pray for the strength needed to live a life of faith, anticipating his return. I may not (single handedly) have the necessary power and influence to overturn systemic laws that promote racism or poverty. Still, I do have the power that comes with the Holy Spirit to use my voice in a way that calls out evil practices. The power to walk and fight for justice is not a power that comes from me but by remaining in Christ and relying on the Holy Spirit.


Indeed, we have a moral responsibility in this world. However, it is essential to pause and acknowledge when our hearts become discouraged. To watch and pray is a reminder we need to cling to our faith, continue to fight, and anticipate our future hope.


Respond

Read and re-read this passage. Allow the Spirit to draw you closer to God. Notice any temptation that leads you from God. Notice the strength to remain with God. Notice your thoughts that come up as you read. Offer them up to God.


Rest

Father, thank you for giving me rest from overwhelming and anxious thoughts. This is your world, your beloved. Help me to reflect on you and remain encouraged by your Spirit. Amen.


About the Author


Tori Mack is currently a student at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago. She co-pastored a church plant in her hometown, Louisville, KY. She is on a mission to be ordained and teach northerners the proper way to enjoy sweet tea. She loves her loud and crazy family deeply. If you’re looking for her, you’ll find her getting lost on a train in search of her next museum adventure.


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