No Stone Left on Stone – Mark 13:1-8
No Stone Left on Stone Mark 13:1-8
This last week our interfaith organization in the Conejo Valley received a message from a Rabbi who is a part of the group. They had to cancel hosting an interfaith luncheon because their building, Temple Edat Elohim, is right off of Herbes in Westlake and sustained a lot of smoke damage as the fires came up the hill just across the street from their location. They actually had to cancel their Shabbat services in the building and instead the Rabbi and the cantor did a Shabbat service on Facebook so people could worship on-line. The minister of the Universalist Unitarian church up in the hills of Newbury Park did something similar as her people had to evacuate.
I can imagine what it was like for the members of these faith communities to have their houses of worship threatened by the wildfires. I can imagine how difficult it was for them to think that the place where they have found the joy of community, where they have celebrated life passages, grieved loved ones, and lifting their deepest desires and concerns to God, might be burned to the ground. They may have been wondering where they would worship if they lost their space? Would they have the money to re-build? Would they have to go somewhere else? How would it affect their worshiping community? Would people leave?
These same thoughts may have been going through the minds of the disciples in this Sunday’s reading from the book of Mark. Jesus is making some harsh predictions about their beloved place of worship that may have caused them to worry. They are walking out of the Temple and the disciples are impressed with its magnificence. One of them says to Jesus, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Jesus responds by saying, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”
Why would Jesus talk this way about the place of worship where God was supposed to reside? Why would he talk this way about the special place where people go to meet God? Some scholars think that Jesus was predicting the siege of Jerusalem when the Romans would attack and destroy the city, including the Temple. Perhaps Jesus was also reminding his followers not to be too impressed by structures built by human hands or to be cautious about connecting their faith too much to a building. He may have wanted to remind them that God was bigger than any building no matter how impressive it might be.
Losing our house of worship would be very sad. It would feel horrible to have the space that contained so many prayerful moments gone and no longer standing. But it is important to remember that faith does not have to be tied to a building. Whether it be in a parking lot or an open field or on Facebook, we would still find ways to gather and connect to each other. We would still find ways to worship, and most importantly, God would still be with us.
-Pastor Erik Goehner