The reading from Mark sounds like the
end of the world, the grand finale. However,
what if that’s not what this gospel lesson is
about? Maybe this passage is about “an”
ending and not “the” end. Maybe there is
more to our lives and our world than a
beginning point and a single ending point
separated and defined by time. Maybe, just
maybe, beginnings and endings happen when
we recognize moments of spiritual growth and
Perhaps that is why we begin with a story
about an ending. Every beginning starts with
an ending. This evening's gospel confronts us
with a necessary ending that makes space for
a new beginning. It reveals a darkness from
which new light will shine. It shakes us awake
to watch for the One to be renewed within us-the One who is always coming and bringing
something new into our souls. That is the gift
and Good News of this new advent season.
Sometimes we need to wake up and face the
necessary endings in our lives.
Each of us comes here tonight with all
sorts of stories and experiences. I’m talking
about the kind of stories and experiences that
have defined us, shaped who we are, given
meaning and direction to our lives, and have
been the motives and drivers for what we do,
how we think, and the ways we relate. They
are powerful stories that give structure to our
lives and upon which we have built our lives.
They are central to our life and identity. They
are the stories that shape our view of the
world, ourselves, others, and God. I like to
call them "temple" stories.
I’ve called them 'temple' stories because
that is the context for this evening’s gospel.
Jesus and his disciples have just left the
temple. In Jesus’ day the temple was the
center of Jewish life and identity. It gave the
people meaning and direction.
But Jesus reminds them that outward
structures do not define them. Jesus is telling
them that the story of their life and identity is
changing and will be replaced with another.
He’s telling them that they will need to let go
of the old view of life, the world, themselves,
and even their understanding of God. They
will have to let go of their "temple" story. And
so must we.
There may be events in our lives that
have caused much pain and sorrow; they may
be events and stories that have shaped how
we live our lives and how we see much of the
world around us.
Hopefully we can begin to recognize how
these painful stories have structured our
lives. Hopefully we can put those stories
beyond us and see how they no longer give
meaning to our lives.
Hopefully we can step
back and reassess how these events have
impoverished our world and diminished who
we are and who we really want to be and are
meant to be as children of God.
Hopefully, these types of "temple" stories
can become a necessary ending. Gently
setting aside these kinds of painful stories can
be an awakening to a new life. It can be a
way of moving away from that dark place into
a new light that can shine.
Divine light can help us create space for a
new story. This process is not, so to speak,
the end but an ending that can create a new
beginning. That is the promise and hope of
this evening’s gospel reading and this holy
season of Advent, a hope and a promise that
will be fulfilled and met when we meet again
the Christ who is always coming into our
So let me ask you:
 What are the "temple" stories you carry
within you?
 What stories have been foundational for
you but no longer give you a safe or lifegiving place to stand?
 In what ways have these stories defined
and determined your life in such a way
that they have denied you the life you
really want?
 How have these stories narrowed your
view of God, the world, others, and
Look for the places where your world is
small and your life is impoverished and you’ll
find a "temple" story. Look for the patterns of
conflict and difficulty in your relationships and
you will find a "temple" story. Look for the
ways in which you continue to do the same
old thing the same old way with the same old
results and you’ll find a "temple" story.
Every "temple" story has a necessary
ending. However, there is also a new
beginning. It is the emergence of God's Holy
Spirit which always brings the beginning of
our new life and a new life story. Christ is our
life and, hopefully, Christ is part of our
healing and living story.