“By your endurance, you will gain your souls”

Title:“By your endurance, you will gain your souls”

  Last Sunday, November 17, 2013  (full size gallery)

A dreary day awaited us after rain the day before. The river was also completely fogged over until near service time. However, we had 43 people plus another 7 begin children from Godly Play.

It was a day the children came into at announcements as part of their study of communion. Catherine paused at time to allude to their studies. You can see from the pictures above that there was a certain amount of amazement in their eyes, 

 It was also the day we collected 2014 pledges (in a small church box) plus received Samaritan Purse shoeboxes. 19 of those came in though Nancy said she could take them until Wednesday. 

The theme was Harvest as we sang many Thanksgiving hymns include "We gather together" and "Come, ye people, people come." The emphasis was not only on the crops but our harvesting to carry God’s blessings into the world.

We’re getting close to the calendar year and even closer to the Church year. Next week is "Christ the King" Sunday the time of transition to the next year in the church’s calendar. 

The tone of the readings coincide with the increasing darkness and shorter days in this season. This week begins apocalyptic readings that will continue through Advent 1.

Our Gospel reading is from the last story about Jesus teaching in the Temple. Now he is spending the last days before his crucifixion debating with the temple authorities, and teaching his disciples the things that they will need to remember once he is gone.

Hearing a comment about the magnificence of the Temple, Jesus declares that the day is coming when "not one stone will be left upon another." The disciples ask what sign will herald this event. Messianic signs are the stuff of millennial speculation, and signs there will be, but for Jesus’ disciples, let there be discernment and patience. Luke, writing in the 80’s, knew about the destruction of the temple in 70AD.

We must endure the coldness of the advancing winter and the stresses and strains of our time. Boundaries and transition naturally cause increasing stress. We are frustrated – we can’t over to the next side whether into Year A in December or into 2014. Anxieties naturally increase 

For ourselves, the scriptures provide the following advice " Don’t panic, Don’t give up the work you have been doing. Praise God and relish in his power and majesty. "

But there is a group element as a community of faith. Just as 2 Thessalonians admonishes us not to grow tired in doing good, so Luke reminds us today to look at hardship and persecution as a chance to tell the gospel, the good news. Jesus tells us again: Do not be afraid! Not a single hair of our heads will be lost and standing firm will bring us through the trouble and to life. The when and how of Christ’s second coming is not our concern. What is our concern is the faithfulness with which we pray, sing, tell and live love until he comes.

The sermon says the following …"the writer of Second Thessalonians reminds us that we are to be serious about our lives as Christians in community, and that all of us are to work together in order to witness to God’s love at work in the world. Each of us is called to contribute, to pull our own weight, to do what we can for our community of faith.  So by our endurance in being witnesses in this time of now and not yet, we will gain our souls, Jesus tells us.  And at the end of time, we will be gathered into God’s eternal presence."

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