Tag Archives: end times

Stand Tall and Look Up

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Biblical Text: Luke 21:5-28
Full Sermon Draft

We are already in the last two weeks of the Church Year, so what that means for the texts is typically various parables and text that relating to the end. Some are more end focused while others have a near meaning in the AD 70 destruction of the temple. This text is one that is heavily focused on AD 70, but Jesus seems to invite some meditation at the end.

This sermon looks at the difference in how Jesus describes AD 70 from how he turns to the end. While in AD 70 he gives the warning to flee, in the end the command is to “stand tall and look up, for your redemption draws near.” That difference has influenced the Christian attitude to worldly events during the entire time of the church, or in the words of the text “the time of the gentiles”. The signs of the kingdom’s coming happen all the time. What the Christian takes from these is not fear or anxiety but assurance. Our redemption draws near.

The applied moral is really for this congregation. We are debating the purchase of a new organ. The sermon attempts to calm some fears in those matters.

Worship Note: Two musical parts are left in. Our opening hymn: Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying is the classic Lutheran chorale, LSB 516. Also, our choir sounded very good today at full strength singing the Psalm of the Day, Psalm 98.

Abominations and Consolations

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Biblical Text: Mark 13:14-37
Full Sermon Draft

This week we read the rest of Mark 13. The sermon is really divided into a macro and a micro part. The consolations are the macro. If you read Mark 13 as a whole there is a great rhythm to the sermons. The horrors seem to increase, but each increase ends with a promise. The point is not to stoke worry or even less rage as so much of the world’s narratives are designed to do. The point is to restore sanity. He’s got the whole world in his hands. He really does sit at the right hand of God. It’s going to be okay.

The micro part is when you start focusing on the words and tracing out what they mean in scripture and history. One part of that is listening carefully to Jesus’ time markers. When we listen carefully we can make the distinction between those times by which Jesus means the time around AD 70 and the destruction of the Temple and that day and that hour by which he means the last day. Those times have a specific sequence and will end within this generation. And they did. That day and that hour are unknown. That is necessary to set some ground rules, but the word that this sermon hones in on is abomination or more specifically the abomination of desolation. It is actually a well defined term or concept in the Old Testament and history. We can’t use it to make a timetable; that is foolishness, but we can think about endings of old orders. This sermon lays out that groundwork and does what a watchman does, it cries watch.

Musical Note: This morning was our matins week which I always realize when formatting is so defined by its music and continuous in one way it is difficult to cut pieces. But cut I did. I left in two musically bits. Our Choir sang “The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns” which is a great Last Sunday of the Church Year or Advent piece. And I left in the final hymn, Rise My Soul to Watch and Pray Lutheran Service Book 663, which is fast becoming one of my favorites and captures the key thought of Jesus’ sermon – watch. It is a great tune that you find yourself humming all day. The text is a typical Catherine Winkworth translation by which I mean crisply poetic and poignant if sometimes pietistic. (I’ve been told that her translations are often quite free. Nothing wrong with that because they work.)

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Genesis 47:1-31 and Mark 13:24-37

Genesis 47:1-31
Mark 13:24-37
Origins of limited government and seeds of its abuse, The commands to Watch!, the day of the Lord
Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying – Lutheran Service Book 516

Hymns We Sing – All Saints Edition

Tuesday was All Saints proper. We will celebrate it this Sunday. All Saints is the Christian feast day that originally inspired Halloween or All Hallows Eve. There are all kind of explanation stories about where this feast day came from. You can read some of them at the wikipedia page or is you want something more sanctified the Catholic Encyclopedia has some history. The church lives with a distinction of the Church Militant (those alive here and now) and the Church Triumphant (those already in glory). The Roman Catholic church would add the Church Suffering (those in purgatory) and also All Souls Day which is the day after All Saints. To me what all of this tries to capture is one line in the Apostle’s Creed and a general sense of connectedness. Though dead saints may have passed, we remaining still feel connected to them and not just in an emotional way. In the third article of the creed we confess that we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints. The entire church – militant and triumphant – is united in Christ. The church at all times and all places is united in Christ waiting for that final revelation and victory. That communion, because we know that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, is what All Saint Celebrates. All Saints ends up being a celebration of the Church and a looking forward to our final unity.

One of the great Hymns that captures this sense is For All the Saints. The Text was written by William How and the tune by Ralph Vaughan Williams. IN the span of the church it is a relatively recent hymn written in the 19th century. But what I want to highlight about it is how it gets the end times sequence correct. Stanzas 5,6,7,8 capture the true confession about time.

5) And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long

Steals on the ear the distant triumph song

And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong

Alleluia

6) The Golden evening brightens in the west

Soon, soon to faithful warriors cometh rest

Sweet is the calm of paradise the blest

Alleluia

7) But, lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day

The saints triumphant rise in bright array

The King of Glory passes on His way

Alleluia

8) From earth’s wide bounds, from oceans farthest coast

Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host

Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost

Alleluis

In verse 5 the Church militant – us here and now – is still struggling, but already we hear the music. The victory has been won. It might be far off, but we hear it – in word and sacrament. In verse 6 is the acknowledgement that eventually all the saints move from militant to a better term might be rest. It is not really the church Triumphant yet. Sweet is the calm of paradise, but things are not as they will be. In verse 7 a yet more glorious day breaks. The Great and Glorious Day of the Lord – resurrection day. The saints, now triumphant, rise is bright array. You see, before the resurrection, is not the end. Read Rev 6:10. The saints in Abraham’s bosom or calm paradise or heaven ask the same question we ask – How long? The Triumph waits until the resurrection of all flesh and the King of Glory passes on his way. Verse 8 captures the final situation. After the resurrection and judgement, from earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast – from every race, tribe, nation and tongue – the saints take up residence in the new Jerusalem. Rev 21:2-4, 21

For All the Saints captures in Word and Song the Hope, Struggle, Rest and Triumph of the Church and all her saints. For that reason is gets pride of place as a theme song on All Saints Day. You’ll hear it this weekend. Come and sing with us.

Its the end of the World as we know it…


Full Text

Text: Luke 21:5-28

Talking about end times or eschatology always inspires lots of speculation. But that is exactly what Jesus says don’t do. The false prophets claim “I am he” or “the time is near”. Pop Christianity waits for a rapture, which is flatly against Jesus’ teaching. The troubles that come on the world are the Christian’s opportunity for witness. The compelling message out of Jesus’ end times words are comfort. This world is constantly trying to get you to fear. And out of fear run to some false savior or false messiah. Jesus does the opposite. Even though you will be persecuted and some will be put to death, not a hair of your head will perish. The purpose of Jesus’ and Christian eschatology or end times teaching is incredibly here and now focused. When the whole world is losing its head of fear of what is coming into the world, the Christian is free and fearless. She know her redemption is drawing near. Which means that we can act with purpose and resolve here and now whatever comes, because its all in the Father’s hands.

Its peculiar to me that the “reality based” label afixes or is claimed by atheists or agnostics. I understand that the resurrection seems a fantastical event. I would go so far as to say it is an absurd belief – in the same way that Paul says Christ crucified is foolishness to the gentiles. But here is the difference, the fundamental story the Bible tells of the world gets proven to me time and again. And Christian eschatology is a great example (which dispensationalism or rapture belief throws away for fantasy). Jesus says these things will happen (famines, wars, persecutions, etc.) and they are necessary. God is directing them. People not grounded in Jesus’ teaching are easily led away to false saviors of every strife that comes into the world. Either wanting to know when like global warming to stop it, or claiming they are the savior like most political movements of the right claiming rescue from big government or the left claiming rescue from big business or the ills of society which are just the results of a sinful world. The christian is freed from those and with a clear eye can focus on what is within their power – being Christ to their neighbor. That is much more real than any large plan. Don’t be led astray.

The trouble with prophecy

Text: Luke 23:26-31

I’m taking a break from 1 Samuel because of the Gospel text of the day. This text to me has always been one of the scariest in all of scripture. To who is this warning given? Most commentators take it only as specifically to Jerusalem and warning once again of what will happen in AD 70. Very critical scholars will say it is made up after the fact. (The Jesus Seminar I’m sure put this quote in black letters indicating no chance the Jesus spoke it.) Only Luke records the presence of the women on the path and Jesus’ words to them – which fits with Luke’s overall attention to women and the high likelihood of Mary being one of his sources. The trouble with words like this is the scope. Do they apply only to that time, or does time telescope. Many of the OT prophecies about Jesus (like Isa 7:14) have a close fulfillment and then a greater fulfillment in Jesus. When Jesus speaks about AD 70 (Luke 21:5-24) does he also speak about a greater Day of the Lord?

Matt 24:22 gives our answer of hope – do not be afraid. Those days will be cut short for the sake of the elect. In more poetic language maybe you could speak of a tree planted over a stream (Ps 1:3). The church is a tree planted on the stream of life, Jesus. With such life giving water does the tree ever fully go dry? Our hope is not for this world, and we are already living in the next. That second death – the dry branches thrown in the flames – will not touch us.