September 12th, 2021 – 16th Sunday after Pentecost
UPCOMING ACTIVITIES FOR WEEK OF: Sept 13th – Sept 19th
Monday: ……………… 6:00pm Men’s Group
Tuesday……………… Holy Cross Day
Wednesday………….. 5:00pm Confirmation
7:30pm Church Council
Thursday: ……………… 10:00am Bible Study
Sunday: …………………. 10:00am Worship
11:00am Bible Study
We are back to recording weekly attendance. Please help with this. Record your presence in the pew books!
PRAYER THOUGHT AND MEDITATION
In Sunday morning bible study we recently were reading Mark 13, which is the Markan apocalypse. Jesus is leaving the temple grounds for the last time and the disciples are marveling over “such large stones”. Jesus tells them “not one stone will be left on top of another.” At least a world is ending, if not the world. And such a prediction spurs the disciples to two questions: 1) When will these things be, and 2) What will be the signs? Jesus’ answer contains a little of AD 70 when that temple was destroyed and not one stone was left on top of another, and a little of a much larger apocalypse. If the first had some signs, like “when you see the abomination of desolation”, the second does not. No one knows the time, not even the Son (Mark 13:32). Which supports one of Jesus’ mantras – “keep awake (Mark 13:37).”
The concern within Christian circles always seems to be with the second part – the end of the world. But as a preacher, if I am being true to the scriptures, I find that part boring. The only message one can preach is “watch.” Which is important, but eventually you become the boy who cried wolf if you bring it to the foreground all the time. “Watch” to me is more that salutary reminder that “today your soul might be required of you.” Or as the hymn puts it “for the foe, well we know, is a harvest reaping, while the saints are sleeping.” These days I find myself thinking about the first part. If everything in scripture is given to us to learn from, what happens to Israel happens to all, what does AD 70, the end of a world, tell us? And what signs will be given that our world is ending, not the world but the big stones of our temple coming down? And if you think God is not involved in the nations intimately start with Acts 17:26, Deuteronomy 32:8, Job 12:23 and Isaiah 41:2. I think Jesus even points a bit at this when he says “from the fig tree learn its lesson (Mark 13:28).” One day, on the way into Jerusalem, Jesus spies a fig tree in full leaf, but it has no fruit, so he curses it. And by evening on the trip back, the cursed fig tree is dead.
There seems to me to be a tension between that parable of the fig tree, which is about the immanent judgement of the LORD and another tree parable, the barren fig in Luke 13: 8ff. In that one the man who planted the tree has given it three years and it is still fruitless, so he orders it taken out. But the vinedresser argues with him, give it one more year, I will take some extraordinary steps. The problem in both is fruitlessness. Repent and bear fruit is always an answer. But sometimes the sign is a call of extraordinary attention, and others the final pronouncement. Some signs are “wars and rumors of wars…earthquakes and famines.” Some signs are towers falling. Like the tower of Siloam (Luke 13:4-5). They are extraordinary steps to say “do you think you are better than other sinners? No I tell you, repent or perish (Luke 13:4-5).” But some signs are the abomination of desolation, the cursing of the fruitless fig. It is mildly disconcerting the other 20th century superpower left Afghanistan in defeat in February of 1989, and by November of 1989 the Berlin Wall had fallen and a world ended.
But even in the midst of these things Jesus tells us three things: 1) God is working for the sake of the elect. There will be signs and wonders, but it is impossible to lead astray those God has chosen. 2) Be on your guard. The five wise virgins brought oil with them. 3) I have told you these things beforehand. Worlds end, even the world will end. But they do so at the command of the LORD. And as much as we might be formed by the big stones of the temples of this world, Our Rock is not in this world. Our temple is a heavenly one. We worship with angels and archangels and all the host of heaven. And nothing shall pull that Rock down. The house built on the Rock stands.
- Thurs 10am: 1 John, Darkness and Light, The Antichrist, Children of God, Love one another, good time to join!
- Confirmation: New Class Starts this week
- Life Application Fellowship (LAF): Paused for now?
- Sunday Morning: Study will be at 11:15ish, after worship, Walking through the Gospel of Mark
- Catechism Moment: Reading the catechism on Baptism directly to your inbox.
6 PM Monday here at church. Dinner and fellowship. All invited.
An internet friend is gathering a survey of LCMS Lutherans for a Grad School project. It takes about 15 mins and asks some questions about your religious upbringing and the current LCMS. If you would like to take his survey it can be found at https://t.co/EcKTWk3pxF?amp=1
If you could pick up a week, the sign-up sheet is on the first bulletin board. Thanks!