My boys used to love building tall structures with blocks. Sometimes they would build the buildings together, and sometimes apart. But, tearing them down seemed a part of their process, and sometimes one or the other son would be mad or sad that their creation would come down. Even after the frustration of a building being knocked down there was always room for a new creation.
This Sunday we come to the end of the book of Mark. We hear Jesus talk about the end of the Jerusalem temple, shocking his disciples. They assume that it will stand forever, and Jesus reminds them that some things need to be torn down so others can be built up.
In this time of the pandemic companies are pondering the usefulness of physical office as people continue to work from their dining rooms, and office buildings stand empty. Our physical spaces are changing, and Jesus brings us a timely word about assuming the permanence of the world around us.
Is it time to tear down, or to build up? And how do we know?
Some workers are complaining about having to return to their offices. Some like the ability to work at home, others like the flexibility, and others are saving money not commuting. Then there are companies struggling to find employees. It seems that many for employees, their work environment is about to change.
Looking at the temple, the disciples see an amazing structure, and yet Jesus reminds them not to be fooled by how it looks on the outside. Our idea of permanent is far from God’s idea. It’s not just the stones that will come down, it’s the temple and its customs and its place in everyday life. All of it has an end, so that something else can come to life.
Jesus isn’t very comforting, as he promises “wars and rumors of wars,” and uncertainty. This is the start of the birth pangs, and, unlike with a human baby, no one knows exactly what is being born. The disciples want much more certainty than Jesus is willing to offer them.
God is always in the creating business, and yet it’s hard to let go of the former things so we can enter the new things. It’s unsettling, even with Jesus as our guide. But, sometimes to build up, we need to let go and tear down. For the month of November, our theme is Loving our neighbors, no exceptions. It’s a theme of tearing down stereotypes and preconceived ideas of others and building up people through listening and learning as we set the table for new neighbors to join us in our faith journey. God is creating and building through the ministry of Bethany and for this we say thanks be to God. Amen.