Lent, Luke

All of this has happened before

I never saw the original version of Battlestar Galactica, but I got on board with the second edition with enthusiasm due to having sons of the age and inclination to love it. The Book of Pythia, a text sacred to the polytheistic human characters, contains the prophecy, “All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.” The characters, living in the aftermath of a galaxy-wide apocalypse engineered by the Cylons (their robot former servants), see themselves in their scriptures, fulfilling prophecies so ancient and dusty they had become little more than quaint and arcane to most.

I think we read our own texts the same way, because we can’t quite make sense of them.

Jesus told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that God’s kingdom is near. I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until everything has happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away. (Luke 21:29-33, CEB)

Certainly, things happened, but unless we’re living in a dream, the world did not come to an end. And these days God’s kingdom feels very far away, unless we’re looking toward an apocalyptic end and a desire for the world as we know it to end just so that terrible situation will be over.

I’ll tell you, the contrast between life in my home, which is what I would describe as energetically harmonious for the most part, and life in the world, which I would describe as violently cacophonous, makes it hard to know where we are on God’s calendar. We’re living a life I want to think exemplifies the world as it should be: faithful and loving service to God, an affectionate family, cats and dog, church, music, knitting, and baseball. We’re queer to boot. This is all good. But out there is so much cruelty: powers and principalities both governmental and corporate using jackbooted thugs to intimidate People of Color, especially Black people, and women, and my particular minority, not to mention anyone who doesn’t happen to share their white straight cis-het privilege or benefit from it indirectly by colluding with it.

Which brings me to more Jesus.

“Take care that your hearts aren’t dulled by drinking parties, drunkenness, and the anxieties of day-to-day life. Don’t let that day fall upon you unexpectedly, like a trap. It will come upon everyone who lives on the face of the whole earth. Stay alert at all times, praying that you are strong enough to escape everything that is about to happen and to stand before the Human One.” (Luke 21:34-36)

Look, being dulled by drinking parties, or baseball, or knitting, or whatever keeps you calm while the White House Press Secretary is denying the Holocaust and doctors are being carried off airplanes and little children are being shot through their teacher, seems pretty natural under the circumstances. Numbing out is apparently nothing new, and considering what I’ve read about the Roman occupation of Jerusalem, I’m unsurprised that Jesus gave this particular warning.

It occurs to me that the world is always like this. I say that not to say that we should give in to the powers that be. Every moment is a crucial enough one that persisting in the fight on behalf of God’s kingdom is worth it. God’s not going to do it in our place.

God is still waiting for us to step to it.

All of this has happened before. All of this will happen again.

Maybe today, God, instead of asking for more of what we need, we should be taking count of what you have already given us and figuring out how to use it to serve you.

So say we all?

I’m reading and blogging about Luke for Lent. Want to read along? The full schedule can be found here.

2 thoughts on “All of this has happened before”

  1. Teaching 1500 years of Brit Lit this year after a 15-year hiatus has reminded me over and over that “all of this has happened before.”

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