Be Careful What You Look For

Drriss & Marrionn – Spreading Roots of a Weeping Fig Tree

Oh Be So





What You

Look For

A reflection shared on Sunday November 30 2014 at Duncan United Church. Scripture references are to Isaiah and Mark readings and can be found at:

“Were You There” sung to the tune of “Were You There” a Spiritual I love to sing, with words that seemed to suit the readings….

Oh Be So Very Careful

Were you there when the heavens opened wide?
Were you there when the mountains rocked and rolled?
Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when the stars began to fall?

Oh tear open the heavens and come down. Let the mountains quake and tremble.

Oh be so very, very, very careful what you look for.

Oh on those days the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give her light.

On that day the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

On that day the stars will begin to fall.

On that day the Son of Man will send out the Angels.

From the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

From the four winds they will gather his elect.

And he shall come in clouds with great power and glory.

Oh be so very, very, very, careful what you look for.

One day the heavens will burst asunder and the god of our ancestors will pour forth a sound and thunder that will quake the mountains, roil the seas and whip the air to a frenzy.

Consider the sound and fury and quaking in Isaiah’s Jerusalem. Exiles return from Babylonian captivity to find homes and plots in the hands of folk the Babylonians hadn’t wanted. Poor ones. Un-useful ones. Left to starve and die until they could find a way to bring life out of a barren and broken land. Left to ally and intermarry with the neighbours. No cheering in the ruins of the city and its farmsteads, as they come from Babylon to take up homes and lands their ancestors lost years before. Who might have looked for wrathful retribution? Who wore righteous deeds like a filthy cloth? Who was blown away like a leaf in the winds of iniquity?

Who would hear these words today? Those returning? Demanding the land God gave their ancestors? Those who stayed? Sharing the same DNA but unwilling, fearful of those coming home. The persecuted returning from exile or the overrun remnants bound deeply to the land they never left? Who looks for the heavens to open and God to cause the earth to tremble, tremble, tremble?

Oh be so very, very, very careful, what you look for.

What of those Mark addressed? Hearing his words in the midst of a revolt that saw the temple destroyed. Stone, from stone, from stone.

Followers of Jesus, driven to Galilee, hearing the call,

“Join arms in Jerusalem, throw Caesar out of the city.”

Being cautioned,

“A time will come. Hold fast. The heavens will rip open. Hold fast. Not yet. Be ready.”

Were you there when they fought on holy ground?
Were you there when they pulled the temple down?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when the sun was lost in cloud?

Oh be so very, very, very, careful what you look for.

Are we to see portents in the four winds? In the thunder of the heavens and the sickness of the seas? Are we to look into the gathering clouds for that which causes the powers to tremble and the principalities to shudder? For the Angels gathering his elect? Are we to see doom’s harbingers in our climate undone, in the wealth of creation given by the many to the few? In war and famine, greed and pestilence?

Or does Mark call us to consider something other than this?


Consider. Jesus says consider the fig tree. In its tender branch, apprehend – summer is near. Keep awake, attend, new life could spring from anywhere. Any part of the created world could be, can be, is already pregnant with promise and hope.

Oh be so very, very, very careful what you look for.

In your looking remember whose people we are.

Recall that in God we celebrate the Creator, the Redeemer, the Sustainer.

We are the Clay…and we are to be ready.

Were you there when new life was yet unseen?
Were you there when our hope could not be gleaned?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
I was there when the shoots began to green…


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About Keith Simmonds

Born and raised in the middle north (Kitimat BC and Flin Flon MB), I've worked 30 years in Mining/Smelting and the Pulp industry, while engaging in political action, community organizing, and union activism on the side. In and Out of Spiritual Being, my faith journey is through a Christian context, although I honour, uphold and am fascinated by other paths to the mountain. I began my training in diaconal ministry with the United Church of Canada in 2004, and began serving as a minister in Rossland, Trail, Beaver Valley and Salmo BC in 2009. My family and I moved to Duncan BC in August of 2013, where I serve as part of the ministry team. My partner, Laurel Walton, and I have five children between us. Liam attends Cow High, Jonah lives and works in Duncan, Brenna resides in Courtenay, Amy and her partner, Craig are in Vancouver, and Wade is in Calgary. My parents and siblings live in Kamloops, BC.

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