23rd Sunday after Pentecost

Luke 21:18-19
But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win your soul.

            Drought and fire, the worst I’ve ever seen. We don’t know when it will end or how many lives will be destroyed, but we know that it’s not over yet. More news updates everyday, fires here and fires over in the US, droughts and famines, civil conflicts and wars, this is the world we live in. We hear the words of Jesus, the letters of saints who have gone before and we wonder, what is this to me? How can this make sense of the world? Love and forgiveness don’t bring the rain, and even if they did, we don’t live in a forgiving world. We live in a world of sinners.

            This is why the world rejected Jesus and still does, He was not a sinner. His preaching of the truth in love lead to hatred of Him and his persecution, suffering and death. He knew the truth that sets free, the truth we confess with Him and all Christians in the Creed, the truth of God Almighty’s Word given to His people of old and preserved for us today. He was under no illusion to the true way of this world, not distracted by the amazing accomplishments achieved by humans, not seduced by the beauty even of this whole world. He stood firm in God’s way, of forgiveness, truth and love. His disciples as we heard today admired the great skill and beauty of the temple God had made in Jerusalem. This place dedicated to Almighty God of all, an image of where heaven and earth meet, of all creation, nations, sea, outer space and beyond the universe to the most holy place; this great wonder that pointed to the one true God. And Jesus responded, ‘this place will be destroyed.’

            Now it’s hard for you and me to really get our heads around this. Jesus is saying two things, one the temple will be destroyed similar to telling an American the white house would be nuked, and two this whole creation, what God’s temple was an image of, will be destroyed. Understandably the Jews wanted to know when. Jesus doesn’t really say, rather He tells them what life is going to be like before the end comes, wars and rumours of wars. Sounds familiar hey? And what does this life look like for those who follow and trust Father, Son, and Spirit? Persecution, arrest, and confrontation with those in power. And betrayal by those close to you, death and hatred. This is what Jesus promised your life before the end will be like. Not a very cheery image is it? How could we hope to survive this?

            Not a hair of your head will be destroyed, in enduring you will win your soul. You have been saved by Jesus, death is not the end, we wait for the resurrection of the dead in Christ to everlasting life in the new creation, the new temple is Jesus, the image of the new creation, sinless, joyful, glorified and untouchable by death or the devil. Here today He renews you in this new life in Him, forgiving you, teaching you and strengthening you; coming to be where He has promised to be for you, wherever two or three gather in His name, and in the bread and wine for your forgiveness. And He doesn’t abandon you when this time today ends, He has given you each other to support and encourage in this hard world. He has sent His Holy Spirit to be there for you, helping, guiding and supporting through your struggles. Even when you are asked, ‘why are you a Christian?’ He tells us not to worry about a script, but rather He will give you wisdom and the words. You have been placed in the kingdom of God, remain under His authority, hearing His word, receiving His forgiveness, and through all this He will stay with you and at the end we will together join the resurrection of Jesus to live together with God Almighty, our creator and Father, living with true peace, joy and love forever.

            We receive together God’s love and mercy now, we are not persecuted for Christ or in a famine, and more you are forgiven all your sins and helped through this life by God Himself. Yet still we wait for the world to come, just as we wait for the rain.

The peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts in Christ Jesus, now and into eternity. Amen.

Joseph Graham.

Comments are closed.