|First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||January 13, 2019||First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C||Isaiah 43:1-7, Luke 3:15-17, 21-22|
|The Epiphany||January 6, 2019||The Epiphany, Year C||Matthew 2:1-12|
|Christmas Eve, Year C||December 24, 2018||Christmas Eve, Year C||Luke 2:1-20|
|Advent 3, Year C||December 16, 2018||Third Sunday of Advent, Year C||Luke 3:7-18|
|Advent 2, Year C||December 9, 2018||Advent 2, Year C||Baruch 5:1-9, Luke 3:1-6|
|Advent 1, Year C||December 2, 2018||The First Sunday in Advent, Year C 2018||Jeremiah 33:14-16, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Psalm 25:1-9, Luke 21:25-36|
|Christ the King Sunday, Year B||November 25, 2018||Christ the King, Last Pentecost||John 18:33-37, Revelation 1:4b-8|
|➤Pentecost 26, Year B||November 18, 2018||Proper 28, Year B||Daniel 12:1-3, Psalm 16, Hebrews 10:11-25, Mark 13: 1-8|
|Pentecost 25, Year B||November 11, 2018||Proper 27, Year B||1 Kings 17:8-16, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 12:38-44|
|All Saints, Year B||November 4, 2018||All Saints’ Day, Year B||Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9; Psalm 24; Revelation 21:1-a; John 11:32-44|
|Pentecost 23, Year B||October 28, 2018||Proper 25, Year B||Mark 10:46-52|
|Pentecost 22, Holy Eucharist II, Year B||October 21, 2018||Proper 24, Year B||Psalm 91:9-16, Hebrews 5:1-10, Mark 10:35-45|
|Pentecost 21, Year B||October 14, 2018||21st Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 23, Year B||Mark 10:17-31|
|Pentecost 20, Holy Eucharist II, Year B||October 7, 2018||Proper 22, Year B||Genesis 2:18-24, Hebrews 1:1-4,2:5-12, Mark 10:2-16|
|Season of Creation 5, Year B||September 30, 2018||The Season of Creation, Week 5, Year B||Isaiah 40:21-31, Psalm 24, Revelation 21:1-7, Mark 16:1-8|
Pentecost 26, Year B
Sermon Date:November 18, 2018
Scripture: Daniel 12:1-3, Psalm 16, Hebrews 10:11-25, Mark 13: 1-8
Liturgy Calendar: Proper 28, Year B
In today’s Old Testament and gospel readings, the disastrous end times are coming.
But Jesus tells his disciples not to be alarmed. Their job is not to fret over the timing of the disastrous events ahead, but to stay faithful and not to be led astray by those pretending to be the Messiah.
In the Old Testament book of Daniel, the Lord speaks to Daniel in a vision and describes those who have stayed faithful and focused on God.
“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”
I heard in a sermon once in which the preacher told us that we ourselves are made of stardust. I checked out this audacious claim, and sure enough,
scientific evidence proves that the Lord was saying something fundamentally true to Daniel—that we do share the same chemical building blocks of life with the stars themselves–carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. https://www.space.com/35276-humans-made-of-stardust-galaxy-life-elements.html
We share the very building blocks of fire and light with the stars. In our very beings, we share essential elements of the universe itself.
So–when we are attuned to our Creator as part of God’s creation, not separate and apart from it, we become wise, and righteous, in right relationship with God and with our fellow human beings, and with creation itself. We can shine out brightly in witness to God’s mercy and goodness.
We are truly the people who can serve as bright beacons of hope to others who have become hopeless, those who are unmoored, seeking answers, and overwhelmed by disasters.
But how can we be bright beacons of hope in this day and age?
Luckily, the people who put the lectionary together gave us today’s passage from Hebrews for help. The writer of Hebrews wants the discouraged people hearing the letter about how to live as people of faith in uncertain times.
Jane Fahey, who wrote the commentary this Hebrews passage in the Feasting on the Word series, elaborates on these light giving things that the writer of Hebrews emphasizes to that congregation.
So—here are four ways to live that will give us star power!
Number One. Have confidence before God. If confidence in your life seems to be locked away out of your reach, I’m here to tell you that Jesus is the key. Knowing Jesus unlocks that boundless confidence that frees us to live as shining witnesses to God’s goodness out in a hurting world.
And having grown up Baptist, I will put this the way the Baptists do—cultivate your personal relationship with Jesus every day. With Jesus at your side, you can live confidently and freely, no matter what disasters come your way.
Today’s Eucharistic Prayer states what God has done, through Jesus, for us. “In him you have delivered us from evil and made us worthy to stand before you. In him, you have brought us out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death, into life.”
Number Two. Live in hope. God is faithful to us, so we can live in hope. And, as that old hymn puts it, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ love and righteousness.”
To live in hope is the fundamental message of Easter that we affirm each time we celebrate the Eucharist.
We are Easter people because we know that after death comes resurrection and new life—that what comes after the end of everything is God, making all things new, every time.
Number Three. Provoke one another to love and good deeds. As Jane Fahey puts it, sometimes we have “to irritate each other into fulfilling our baptismal vows.”
The prophets fulfill this role in scripture. They speak truth to those in power—remember Amos, who told those who were contented with lounging around and arrogantly enjoying their wealth that God was calling them to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.
The Rev. Ray Barber is irritating—a modern day prophet to this society from my hometown. Ray Barber is a minister who preaches prophetically. He started the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina—he reminds us that justice and mercy are still missing in the ways that we are relating to one another, and that for justice to be served, discriminatory laws still need to be changed.
Jesus was so irritating to the temple authorities that he ended up on a cross.
One of the most important things that we Christians can do for one another is to provoke and irritate one another into doing what God would have us do, as unpleasant as that process can be at times.
Think about it this way—friction causes fire, and fire fuels the stars.
Number Four. Meet together and encourage one another. That’s right! The writer of Hebrews finds meeting together to be extremely important. And this meeting together has to happen on a regular basis so that it becomes habit! Because neglecting to meet together can also become a habit.
Today we sang “We Gather Together” as the hymn of praise. I chose it not just because it’s a Thanksgiving hymn but also because it sums up why we meet together every week.
“We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing, he chastens and hastens his will to make known.”
When we meet together God can provoke us into knowing God’s will. And we praise God together for all that God does for us.
“The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing: Sing praises to his name, he forgets not his own.”
And when it comes to meeting together, our light—put together—is brighter than any of our individual lights. Think of us as the brightness of the Milky Way.
Sunday after next, we enter into the new year of the church—on the first Sunday of Advent, when we begin to prepare for the Lord’s coming, not only as a human being, born of a human mother in a stable, but
we also we prepare for Jesus to come in glory at the end of time– as we say in the Nicene Creed. “He will come in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.”
We want to be ready, already shining brightly like the stars, in right relationship with God, with one another and with all of creation—God wants us to be beacons in this world of what is to come—God’s new creation.
It’s no wonder that the season of Christmas ends with The Epiphany, when the wise men see a star rising in the East and follow it to the Christ Child.
So, even now, let us shine, let us shine, let us shine, so that others may be dazzled by our light, and follow us to Him.