Gospel Lesson for Sunday Nov 17 2019
5 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6”As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” 7 They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 8And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’* “Do not go after them.” 9 “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. 12 “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 18You will be hated by all because of my name. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your souls.”
The End Times
It is a perilous thing to watch too much national news. Sometimes ignorance is, at least temporarily, bliss! Reading this passage of Luke is not unlike a week’s worth of CNN or Fox…wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters of all kinds, persecutions, perils, and the great divides between families and nations over the name and nature of God.
I have heard conservative Christians talk about being persecuted in the United States. I have also heard about Christians being persecuted around the world. So far, there is a big difference. Our government has not resorted to beheading those who have religious beliefs that seem to threaten the common good as defined by said government (perhaps because so much of Christianity is happily assimilated into the patterns of secular life). At the moment, we don’t experience verse 17, “You will be hated by all because of my name.”
But, unless we read this as a piece of prophecy that has already been fulfilled, we have some watching and preparing to do to face the very unraveling of our age. Granted, every generation has thought it was the last generation, and I think this has something to do with our collective ego that wants to ask what could possibly come after us? Would we recognize a false prophet if one came knocking on our door, filled with deceptive and seductive promises couched in words so very similar to ones we think we might have heard in church? We need to be prepared for these things, dear ones.
And so, as we watch and wait, we are reminded by the passage for this week in Second Thessalonians that we are to do our share in the community, refrain from taking advantage of each other and fill the time with what, for each of us, is the next right thing to do. I have seen a bumper sticker that is both funny and sad, but underneath contains truth: “Jesus is coming. Look busy.” Yes, busy but more than looking busy with frivolous activity, we need to be about the tasks that foretell the kingdom of God coming to earth: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, house the homeless, protect the aliens in our land, rescue the abused and seek to restore the damaged ones among us. That is plenty to keep us busy as we await his final “Well done.”
What does busy look like for you? Is God nudging your spirit with a task that simply won’t leave you alone? Jesus asked us never to tire in doing what is good. It may tire us out to think about the tasks but the joy we find in the doing is the engine of our perseverance. Stay focused, engaged, watchful and ready! Your salvation has arrived, but is also yet to come. None of us knows if it will be tonight or a thousand years from now. But, “by holding fast, you will gain your lives.”
As we go forth each day, this benediction printed in a blog by Pr. Daniel B. Clendenin, goes before us:
"Go forth into the world in peace. Be of good courage. Hold fast to that which is good. Render to no one evil for evil. Strengthen the fainthearted. Support the weak. Comfort the afflicted. Be patient with all but make no peace with oppression. Love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always."
e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602.866.9191.
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website.