Our scripture this evening is from the gospel of Matthew 24:1-14
1As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2Then he asked them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down."
3When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" 4Jesus answered them, "Beware that no one leads you astray. 5For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Messiah!' and they will lead many astray. 6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: 8all this is but the beginning of the birthpangs.
9"Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. 13But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come."
If you wish to continue with Lectio Divina, you can click here; then, you can return for the meditation and prayer.
The last time I gave birth (and these are 23-year-old memories, so bear with me), they surely did come like a thief in the night.
My baby was late, three weeks, by my calculations. My mother had, thus, been with me for a month, and I was withering under her watchful gaze, which was constant. I couldn't bear it. So I would grab the videos and run out to Blockbuster (Remember videos? Remember Blockbuster?), just to have twenty minutes alone, without my mom watching as if I were literally about to burst open like that poor man in "Alien."
So, one night, I went to the movies, to see "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me." That night I had fitful dreams, weird ones, reminiscent of David Lynchian scenarios. At 5:30 AM a contraction on the level of a shift in the San Andreas fault awakened me.
I nudged my husband and said, "I'm in labor! I'm going to take a shower."
90 seconds later (give or take; I wasn't actually timing things yet), before I had even turned on the water, another contraction seized me. I decided to sit on the bed and see how things were going, and this time, I watched the clock. 30 second later, another contraction.
I nudged my husband again, and said, "I think we'd better get to the hospital."
Joan Paulina was born an hour and 46 minutes later. The midwife was still in her street clothes.
It was kind of terrifying, and I'd done this before.
The beginnings of the birthpangs are things that say, Hey. Hey. HEY. YOU. Pay attention.
This is it.
"Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" from the Liturgy of Saint James.
From Red Mountain Music
O God, this season we seek to control and manage everything from the lights we string to the smiles on the faces of our children. Teach us, O teach us, that Advent is about yielding to you, to the Great Mystery, and to allowing what you will, to come to birth. We pray in the name of your Word, Jesus Christ. Amen.