A Word from Canon Smalley
in the December 24, 2017 Adventurer
One of the passages of Scripture that we often hear during our church season of Advent is from the 13th chapter of Mark’s Gospel. It is disconcerting initially, speaking of the destruction of the temple, God’s judgment, and the second coming of Jesus, of how we will not know the hour, and the exhortation to stay awake. In reflecting on this recently with friends, what struck me was the application of the destruction of the temple to your life and mine.
The temple was magnificent aesthetically and central for the people of Israel in every way – culturally, politically, socioeconomically, and religiously. It was their identity, central to their understanding of themselves, and Jesus speaks words that seem inconceivable even to his closest followers: “There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
The temple had become an idol, a stumbling block in the people’s relationship with God, a false security, and God was going to allow for its destruction. A hard truth perhaps, but it would be replaced with something infinitely superior, something permanent to which we can cling and which keeps us fast. Perhaps you have experienced such in your life.
For you and me, all of our idols and temples will inevitably be torn down. Though it may sound severe, it is really the removal of false hope and security, to be replaced by the genuine article.
God’s answer to false hopes and false temples is to give himself: a sure and certain hope, an everlasting gift. As you receive this newsletter, we are preparing to celebrate God’s seemingly paradoxical answer to human need. Instead of grand temples or systems or mighty armies, he gives himself as an infant, tiny and vulnerable. This infant will become the Son of Man, the Suffering Servant, and through the temple of his body being torn down and raised up again he will defeat our greatest enemies – ourselves, death, and separation from God – and secure our victory. Let us give thanks for him; O come, let us adore him.