December 3, 2017 (First Sunday of Advent) – Mark 13:24-37

Mark 13:24-37

When the Stars Fall

First Sunday of Advent – December 3, 2017

First Lutheran Church – Winnipeg, MB

When I was little I loved looking at the stars in the night sky.

All these pin points of light in the darkness seemed so beautiful.

And here’s the thing: they were the same every night.

I didn’t know much about the constellations, but I loved learning how to find the big dipper.

And once I knew how to find it, I could always find it, even at different times of the year.

One night I was looking up and I thought: these are the same stars that ancient people saw.

The same stars that Plato saw, and Cleopatra.

The same stars that Jesus saw.

And there was something very comforting in that.

When I was feeling down, or things were not going well, I just remembered the stars:

they were still there.


Today, as a metaphor for things going terribly terribly wrong in the world,

Jesus imagines a time when the stars are no longer there.

A time when you look up, and even the stars are not where they used to be.

But a time, rather, when the stars fall from the sky, and nothing is the same as it used to be.

When the stars fall.

It’s a metaphor for all that goes wrong in our lives and in the world.

The stars fall in every generation and it the stars fall in the life of each one of us –

and that is something that binds us all together.

Whether it is the loss of a job, the death of someone close to us, a divorce,

physical or mental illness, a public embarrassment, or a failure:

the stars fall in many and various ways for us.


The Good News, Jesus says this morning, is that when these things happen, when the starts fall,

it is a sign that Christ is coming to us now.

“When these things happen,” says Jesus, “when the stars fall is when you will see me coming,

and I will gather you all together and I will be near.”

So be watchful.

I will come.


I think it’s important to notice that this passage is not about judgment.

It is not about the end of the world.

It is about what happens when catastrophe strikes, when the stars fall.

It is important to note that neither Jesus nor God causes these things –

all we need to know is that when the stars fall

is the sign that Jesus is coming to be with us.


Jesus may be thinking of his imminent crucifixion which is not far off –

which I am sure felt like the end of his world.

And as Mark writes his Gospel, he may be thinking of the total destruction of Jerusalem by

the Romans during his time – which many did indeed feel was the end of their world.

As you hear this Gospel this morning, what do you think of?

The headlines of increasing hostility between the United States and North Korea?

The spate of allegations of sexual misconduct by trusted public figures?

Broken relationships between First Nations peoples and others here in Canada?

Difficulty at work? The inability to change broken systems?

The prevalence of greed and selfishness and thoughtlessness?

Your personal circumstances in which the stars seem to fall and nothing will be the same again?


Jesus tells a story in the middle of the Gospel reading about a man who went on a trip and

left his servants in charge.

Each is given a job to do but they are not told when the man will return.

The man just tells the doorkeeper to be alert and watchful.

The rest of the staff are simply to do the jobs they’ve been given to do.


As we wait for Christ’s final return when all will be restored

as it was meant to be from the beginning, we too have jobs we’ve been given to do.

To heal and bind up broken hearts.

To welcome and to feed.

To speak against injustice and forgive the wrongdoer.

To pray and give thanks.

To be with the lonely.

To do whatever task we are at in our jobs or in school or in our homes with

our eye always on the common good of all.

To share the manna we’ve been given.

And to be alert to how Jesus comes when the stars fall.

For that is when he comes – and is present.


Yes: we are to be on the lookout for the big return – but we are also called to be alert and

awake to the many ways Jesus appears and comes in the present.

When I look back on the last difficult few years of my life,

I can see that Christ came to me in many ways.

Phone calls from friends.  Visits from family.  Invitations to dinner.

Support and encouragement from you.

Looking back I see Jesus in every act of love offered by friends and family.

When the stars fall, Jesus is near.


As the stars fall in the lives of others and in the world around us,

may we all be willing to be the hands and feet of Christ,

so that others may know that Jesus is near and that Jesus comes.

And may we all be alert to when he comes into our own lives when the sky seems to be falling.

The great promise in today’s Gospel reading is that nothing is a barrier to Christ’s coming to us.

Nothing is so bad that Jesus cannot be present.

Nothing and no one is beyond redemption – including this whole world, including you.

Be alert, stay watchful, keep awake to the wonder of love: for when the stars fall, Jesus is near.

So together, let us say, “Amen.”

Pastor Michael Kurtz



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