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The Rock That Births You

Today (Sunday, November 14) I preached at St. Paul’s UMC in Houston, Texas. The sermon – The Rock That Births You – was on Mark 13:1-8:

As Jesus came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.”

This isn’t an easy story — it is especially hard to avoid the pitfalls of any Christian preaching about the destruction of the Temple (I pray I didn’t contribute to those anti-Semitic interpretations!). But I think it is one of the most important stories in Mark, a short section of verses that help make sense of the entire gospel.
 The Arch of Titus — believed to commemorate the Roman destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, 70 C.E.
In the midst of the sermon, I blurted out an interpretation of Mark’s gospel that I’ve never heard before — tackling the issue of why Mark (unlike Luke and Matthew) doesn’t have a birth narrative. And how this genuinely gloomy gospel may actually be the most hopeful of the four gospels in these terribly difficult days.

Listen in to thirty good minutes about the suffering shared by Jews and Christians at the hands of the Roman Empire — and our heritage of rocks and birth, and our common dream for the Age to Come.

Diana Butler Bass, Ph.D., is an award-winning author, popular speaker, inspiring preacher, and one of America’s most trusted commentators on religion and contemporary spirituality. Visit her website here.

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