We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Mark’s “Little Apocalypse”

Jesus’ speech in Mark 13, known as Mark’s “Little Apocalypse,” highlights the destruction of the Temple, social chaos, “wars and rumors of war” (v.7) as the “beginning of the birth pangs” (v.8) — the signs of the apocalypse. Mark was written during a time of Christian persecution by the Roman Empire, but these words still echo today. Our world is erupting in devastating wars while we witness the horrifying killing of innocents. This Advent, the political and social chaos of Jesus’ day resonates a little too well.

When we are overwhelmed by the suffering of our world, what can we learn from apocalyptic texts that turn us to the future? How can these texts illuminate the ways we can and should move through our current context? How can these texts prepare and inspire us for a new beginning come Christmas?

Mark’s “Little Apocalypse” is meant to encourage the faithful to endure, because, as the old spiritual says, “soon and very soon, we are going to see the King” (Glory to God, 384). Mark anticipates Jesus will return within his lifetime, encouraging us to “keep awake” (v.37), recognize the ways God is already here, and keep hopeful eyes on the horizon for the redemption God promises to bring.

The climax of Jesus’ apocalyptic speech in verses 26-27 describes God’s final gathering of his people. Jesus reassures those suffering that God is ultimately in control; their hardships will not last forever. The vision of God’s people gathered “from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven” (v.27) is a source of strength. There is no greater suffering than that endured alone. ..