At first glance, the passage from Mark is full of doom and gloom. The disciples asked for signs of the end times, and Jesus told them that the end times would be full of danger. Is this really the way for us to start the season of Advent? Isn’t Advent supposed to be a time of hope and preparation? The answer to both questions is yes. Advent isn’t about preparing for Christmas. It’s about preparing for the coming of Christ. Advent always begins with preparing and waiting for Christ to come again. Just as the first coming was an event of cosmic proportion, so will the second coming be.
The passage from Mark is not meant to frighten us. It is meant to comfort us, especially as we face life’s trials. When people are suffering, we must acknowledge their pain, grief and obstacles. When we see the problems that will accompany the end times, it isn’t a sign that the Kingdom is late or has been derailed. We don’t know when it will come, but nothing can stop it from coming.