Mark 13 is a strong contender for status as the most disputed and obscure passage in the New Testament. Moreover, its difficulties can make it extremely distracting to readers, especially when we are focusing on the gospel narrative. Strangely, at the same time, there is no chapter of Mark whose main idea is so clearly spelled out. If we concentrate on this main point, as Mark wished readers to do, it will be easier to make sense of the details.
When I was a child, I remember sitting in church with my parents. Unlike some children, I was not allowed to have a coloring book or activity to occupy my time, and there was one very big rule: Be Quiet. Unfortunately, I was not naturally a quiet child. I think you all know what happens when a child doesn’t obey, so I think you can all guess what happened when I wasn’t quiet. That’s right, I was punished. So this month, this article is for all the children out there who wiggle, and whis- per, and can’t seem to sit still even though you know what will happen if you disobey.
We’ve reported before about the ongoing latrine project at Naranjal. How it’s going, how long it’s taking to complete the first 7 latrines, how big of a help this will be for the people of that community. You’ve heard it all before and we see and experience these feelings/thoughts (and more) each and every Sunday when we visit Naranjal. However this past Sunday I was struck again with the importance of what we are doing during a conversation I had with the leaders of the group. We were discussing when to have more materials delivered so we could complete the next latrine and one of the directors (one who I’ve never heard make any comment be- fore) started talking about how important this project is, and how we need to not let the momentum that we’ve gained die out.
This was the last thing I wanted to hear at that point, but God has a way with lifting us up when we are down, and he blesses us with family for a reason.
Each month, I try to choose relevant topics in the field of inter-cultural experience, usually based on what we have been dealing with recently. And let me tell you, we are being stretched all over the place in the reliability of planned activities. I hadn’t realized just how much this affected us until we had a chance to plan out a week’s worth of activities for our most recent visitors from Tullahoma, Ken and Suzanne Smith. It struck me as a little out of the ordinary that we would decide what we would do, and then actually do it. It felt unusual, because it is.
There has been no little discussion of the after life, Hell, and the end of the world in recent Christian discourse. Our eschatology—our understanding of the “last things”—must and should shape our lives in Christ. We are a people of hope and promise, followers of a Savior who interrupted history with an unexpected glimpse of the future. Moreover, God’s mission is oriented toward a particular end, which frames all that we would do and say in his name.