And so may you, as soon as you see these things happening, know that he is at your doors.
seen from afar
prediction is a strength
action based on it
an intention to control
pushing another’s buttons
our causing effects
it won’t be long
In its indefiniteness “these things” are a bit mysterious and cannot be pinned down.
Is Mark referring to signs of rising like sap rising in a fig tree? The cosmic travail of verses 24–27? The human disasters of verses 14–23? The sequence of suffering, death, and rising? Healings? Baptismal and Transfigurational Belovedness?
Bratcher419notes, “At the very gates may be quite meaningless in some languages, for it has no possible relationship to a temporal context.” This cultural reality requires translators to go beyond holding to a literal one-for-one basis for their work.
This door indicates that we are not dealing with a rigid apocalypse but an ironic reversal mocking it—becoming a source of good news. The resolution for our problems is not an ending, but a beginning. Our troubles are not to resolve themselves by coming to some final, horrible end. Rather, troubles are to begin seeing a wonderful, excellent, very good way of partnering with one another and all of creation.
All the images of shutting down eventually come around to their paradoxical other side. Stars fall and an old, old cloud rises to fertilize the land with rain. The dissolving of our old creation is the door through which a new creation arrives even as the water of baptism arrives as our heart is changed. The revelation of a changed presence can turn an unending plain into a mountain-top experience from which we return changed, able to engage in active prayer beyond directing G*D to do our bidding.
The Revised Common Lectionary has this section (13:24–37) as a reading for the First Sunday in Advent. It is time to recognize G*D’s Presence has not arrived. Clear troubles can clear our heart.