The Last Sunday of the Church Year

Jeremiah 23:6
n His days Judah will be saved and Israel will dwell in safety, and His name will be called The Lord our righteousness.

The king will reign. This is the end of the church year, we have been on a journey from the coming of Jesus through His life, death, resurrection and ascension, to Pentecost the birth of His church, the way He calls us to live as saints throughout all time and place and these last few weeks, looking toward the end of this world. But one thing stays true, the King will reign. Drought, fire, dust and smoke Jesus says true to you, you have nothing you need to fear, not even spiders or snakes, but do be wary of the dangerous ones. Wars and conflicts, but the gates of hell will not overcome Christ’s church that you are a part of in Holy baptism. This kingdom will know no end.

But this corrupt world will. Jeremiah in his time saw the end of the kingdom of Judah, a kingdom lead mostly by men who rejected God, they went their own way, worshipping other gods and other kingdoms. Now two things, shepherd, really grazier or tender, describes rulers, they are supposed to tend to the people in the land. The second thing, God promised His people through Jeremiah, now the promise was partially fulfilled through the destruction of the kings of Judah, the exile and the restoration of the Jewish state by king Cyrus the Persian, but more fully Jesus fulfils the promise when He came, Son of David, Son of God, to save God’s people and continues to raise up shepherds over us today. This is true, yet we can’t fully see it until the final revelation at the end, when all is finished, fulfilled, perfected. So when God through Jeremiah is speaking to the ancient Jews, He is also speaking to you.

We Christians, followers of the truth, those who trust Christ Jesus the King of kings. We have been scattered across this world and divided by different teachings, different ways of life. The leaders across the globe reject God’s way of forgiveness and peace, even here in Australia they can forget they are called to tend to all those in this land, not just their friends or family. This is also a warning to me as your pastor, latin for shepherd here in this pasture. Leaders in the church are not immune to sin and the attacks and deceptions of the devil. Political or military power is one thing, but you have authorised me to have spiritual power over you, pray I don’t abuse it teaching in such a way that you are pointed to yourself rather than pointed to Jesus and your salvation and life in Him. Wrong teaching can destroy you, this is why it’s a scary thing to lead God’s people, the one who has been given much, much will be expected (Luke 12:48). And there will be a judgement at the end, under Jesus justice and righteousness will be the law of the land, the evil shepherds will be destroyed and those who reject Jesus the king killed, no more will God’s people be lead astray or abused, the devil and all his demons will be executed.

You will be free. Today you are freed from your sins, saved from the devil who accuses and tricks you, in Jesus you are safe. And here is the wonderful news, you and I don’t have to rely on ourselves, on what we have done or failed to do; you don’t have to rely on your good life, or your confession, and you don’t need to be afraid or doubt Christ’s words to you, given to you for the forgiveness of your sins. This beautiful good news is the name of the king, the Son of David, the Lord our righteousness. Jesus is your righteousness, it is not about you, He has done it, it’s not about me, Jesus saves, it is not about our words, He is the one who has promised and He fulfils all God’s Word. In Jesus you are washed clean of all your failures, all your sin, all the evil you have done. You are forgiven, you are safe. When Christ Jesus, God Almighty, comes as judge you have no reason to fear because He has already rescued you from the kingdom of darkness and evil, as Paul wrote, and brought you through baptism into His kingdom, redeemed you and reconciled you to Himself; you have peace through His blood, joined to His death in baptism and now alive in Him who makes you righteous. The judge can’t judge Himself, even if He did He is wise, caring, just and righteous, straight to God’s kingdom for you. And that is what Jesus your righteousness has already said to you.

This is the end of the year, next week we’ll start again looking forward to the coming of Jesus Christ. You do not need to fear or distress because for you and all Christians the judgement has already been made, you live now in the New Creation, Jesus Christ. We just have to wait until God reveals it to us, and with the conflict, disease, fire and drought, we might not have to wait too long for peace, joy and life everlasting.

And the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, to life everlasting. Amen.

Joseph Graham.