Text: Luke 21:10-12, 18, 19
“Countries will fight each other; kingdoms will attack one another. There will be terrible earthquakes, famines, and plagues everywhere; there will be strange and terrifying things coming from the sky. Before all these things take place, however, you will be arrested and persecuted; you will be handed over to be tried in synagogues and be put in prison; you will be brought before kings and rulers for my sake. …. But not a single hair from your heads will be lost. Stand firm, and you will save yourselves.
Interruptions can be annoying. You decide that it’s time to start your Christmas cards and letters but as soon as you put pen to paper someone in the family is hungry, can’t find something, or your phone rings there goes your good intentions.
Sometimes interruptions, though initially annoying, can be creative and constructive. The whole story of the Bible can be looked at from the viewpoint of interruptions.
The devastating effects of sin interrupt the peace and harmony of life in the Garden of Eden. Sin interrupts God’s plans for the world. God had created a beautiful world and had put beautiful people in it but sin interrupted the beauty of God’s world. In turn God interrupts sin by becoming a human being who lives among us filled with grace and truth and dies for us.
Moses was happily looking after sheep and keeping out of trouble when his life was interrupted by a voice from a burning bush. It was God who was challenging him to step out of his comfort zone and demand that the king of Egypt let the people of Israel go free.
God’s people were caught in sin and were drifting away from God and so he interrupted the lives of ordinary people and sent them as prophets to interrupt their drift away from him and bring them back into a relationship with their Creator and Saviour.
The announcement of the birth of Jesus interrupts a young girl’s life and her wedding plans. The silence of the night is interrupted when angels announce the birth of the Messiah.
A traitor friend who needs to go and sell his Lord for the price of a slave interrupts Jesus’ celebration of the Passover with his disciples. This same traitor and the armed guards interrupt Jesus’ prayers in the Garden. And finally, the sadness and confusion after Jesus’ death is interrupted by the news that he has risen. His tomb is empty.
Interruptions are events in our lives that can’t be forced back any more than we can hold back the tide.
Today’s difficult gospel text makes us aware of the interruption that will affect the whole world. Jesus is leaving the temple and he is looking around at one of the most magnificent structures in the world at that time. He tells his disciples that this grand monument will be destroyed. We know that this happened at the hands of the Romans. The history of the temple will be interrupted and brought to an end, he says, and it was.
He goes on and says that everything we cherish, every institution and tradition, every treasure that we count on and store up will be interrupted and brought to an end. Wars, earthquakes, famines, and other disasters in nature, persecutions when family members will rise up against other members of a family, will interrupt our way of life and the peace we enjoy.
Peace and safety in our world and in our community are very fragile things and can easily be interrupted by hostility, bloodshed, robbery and fear. The interruptions that we experience almost on a daily basis are reminders that things in this world are very uncertain.
When you think about it, the interruptions that we experience in life can make us feel very insecure and uncertain. Everything that we once considered solid and secure; what we once thought to be the centre of our happiness and peace can suddenly be interrupted and we are left with nothing. Take the story of Job in the Old Testament who had everything and in an instant it was all gone.
But Jesus wants to make it quite clear in our reading today that there is one thing that will never be interrupted, that is, the love that our Father in heaven has for us. Jesus says, “Not a single hair from your heads will be lost”. Regardless of what may happen to interrupt our peace and happiness in this life, nothing will interrupt God’s love for us.
“Stand firm”, Jesus says in the last verse in our reading. Trust and believe in that love for you.
“Stand firm” and believe that Jesus’ love has forgiven all your sin and prepared a way for you to eternal life.
“Stand firm” and believe that he will stand beside you and help you no matter what kind of interruption will disrupt your happiness and peace in this life.
“Stand firm” in the knowledge that even though all kinds of disasters may come God loves you and he will not allow anything interrupt that love and care for you.
On the day we die or when Christ bursts into this world on the last day (whichever comes first), that will be the last interruption that we will ever experience. There will no more interruptions by sickness, death, wars, natural disasters, accidents, crime or whatever. We will be taken into God’s presence and join those gathered around the throne of God.
In the meantime we need to deal with the interruptions that take place in our everyday life. How easily is our trust in Jesus interrupted? How readily do we allow our pet sins interrupt the newness that we have in Christ?
How often do we allow or even try to find interruptions that keep us away from reading God’s Word, praying and worshipping together with our fellow believers?
How willingly do we allow our sinful nature and Satan interrupt our walking God’s ways?
God grant that the Holy Spirit would interrupt every sin, every temptation, every fear and doubt, and remind us every day that God’s love for us is uninterruptible. God grant that our commitment and faith be as uninterruptible as God’s commitment to us.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.