Mark 12: 1-8
Yesterday, seemingly almost like Déjà vu these days, I awoke to the news of another hostage situation-this time in Paris.
The saying is “one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.” That may be the case for the French Resistance in World War 11 and even the Roman hating Barabbas who at the crowd’s insistence was released by Pilot in the place of Jesus.
Purposely targeting unsuspecting civilians going about their business is not collateral damage. It is out and out evil.
Barabbas instead of Jesus, evil instead of live-the same letters but spelt back to front.
Surveying our times we see natural disasters, war, famine, persecution, moral and social decline seemingly unchecked, gaining speed and it would seem all heading in the one direction. Clearly we are at living in the end times that Jesus has spoken of in today’s Gospel.
Just as the apostles were in their times. The beginning of the end started at the end of the beginning-the time that the promised messiah, Jesus Christ the Son of God came to earth and defeated sin and death on the cross.
Life is fleeting and as our time here passes here we do know we have another life to come and so we live now with our eyes on both. An eye to the consummation of the promise, that our last day will become our first in God’s Kingdom where there will be no death, trials, tribulations or separation from those we miss.
And an eye to God’s kingdom now, living in it and participating in its growth. To live amongst our world’s fears and distractions and amongst its joy and beauty. To live knowing the truth of how we stand before God. That whether we meet God the Father through his Son coming from the clouds, or meet God the Father in death, meet him here today in worship or meet him in the person we meet up the road, that in Christ we stand before him with our names written in the book of life. To live as Martin Luther responded “I live everyday like it’s my last, yet still planting a tree”.
Things happen in our lives that hurt. Our own stuff and seeing others with theirs. There is much joy in our world but just as much of the other. But with that one eye to the promise we have been given in Christ, our road here and now is full of promise and beauty.
The hard stuff will come along but we can face and endure it in Christ, knowing that it will pass.
I read of a man that was led to Christianity, to our Lord’s kingdom through his medical studies where he continually saw how Christians reacted to impending death. We may not be as close to the end as those who witnessed to him. But we all one way or another in our remaining time, be it one day or one hundred years are all in the same hospital bed as those that he saw. That we travel these days of confusion, danger and fear in hope and faith is a question or a thing to ponder for those still searching. Our faith is our witness.
In our times it takes great courage to be in the world but not of it. To live in the face of death in hope. To live and work with our colleagues and friends and treat Christian and non-Christian alike. To give ourselves, to love and support those who may ridicule us because of our faith and beliefs the same as we do for those that thank God for our faith.
“Keep fighting the good fight”.
And sometimes that’s exactly how it seems and though it sometimes feels like a fight that we don’t seem to be winning and may not be particularly good at is not the point. The point is Jesus Christ our Saviour.
“Keep fighting the good fight”. Jesus fought our battle on the cross and The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit have fought and worked tirelessly throughout our lives that we see and accept that truth. To rest in that truth.
In our lives we go out daily into the mission field to fight the good fight. Not against our fellow citizens but against the lies that have led them astray. To not stand in front or behind our earthly brothers and sisters, but stand alongside them in front of the cross, that they too may see, hear and understand the truth of our Savior.
We go out knowing who we are: Forgiven sinners in Christ with our names written in the book of life. Not maybe, but certainly.
And in that, we go out in the certainty that through those even as such as us, that God will be God and though turmoil stands at the door, we stand in the peace that is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who has shown us the way home, is with us on our journey that come what may, should it be flood or drought, bushfire or rain, we keep our eyes on Christ that we persevere and not be troubled by the times, but know that the time is now. To stand up and be counted and renounce evil that others may live. To stand up and point to the one that is life, and gives life-Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.