It is either uncanny or providential how often the lectionary passages for each Sunday speak so directly to what is occurring in the life of our community, the current world situation, or both. Such was the case a few weeks ago, when the lectionary included the readings Malachi 3:14-4:2 and Luke 21:5-19.
I found real consolation in these scriptures. The previous several weeks had been difficult for us. We awakened in the morning afraid to turn on the news for fear of hearing a report of yet another invasion, military action, or crisis. We felt very close to the Christians in Nicaragua, who were very anxious about what seemed to be a threat of imminent invasion. Even now invasion seems to be a possibility at almost any time. We still feel frustration and anger, sorrow and fear.
In Luke, Jesus says that "the days will come" of trials and troubles, and of those who will try to lead us astray, even in his name. Jesus is speaking of false prophets. Then, of wars and tumults he says, "... do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once."
Jesus encourages us to distinguish between the days of trial, trouble, tumult, and war, and what he refers to as the end or, in biblical language, the day of judgment. These days of trouble and violence and what the Bible calls the day of judgment are not the same.