Pentecost 25, Nov 15, 2015

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Title:Pentecost 25, Nov 15, 2015

  Pentecost 25, Nov. 15 2015  (full size gallery)

A beautiful fall day at St. Peter’s though with a small congregation of 28. "Weaving God’s Promises" at 10am looked the second part of the Book of Common Prayer, including the origin and use of the Eucharistic Prayer.

The service was the next to last Sunday in Year B. It was the last reading in the Gospel of Mark.  

We celebrated the birthdays of Alexander Long IV and Alexander V (both born on the same day) and Owen Long, son of Alexander V.

The sermon was about how to live in hope despite our challenging times.:

1 "Anger, despair and ultimately apathy can result from the constant barrage of bad news that we must bear each day..So today’s lectionary passages are particularly appropriate for us, right here and right now. “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope,” says the writer of Hebrews to a discouraged congregation.  

2. "We must become apocalypticists. .Apocalypticists are people who live in hope even in the midst of despair, like those two thousand years ago with an apocalyptic world view who believed that God originally made the world good. 

3. "Why thing apocalyptically ?  

   A. First of all, we are followers of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the most hopeful person  who ever lived—he was even willing to die on a cross out of hope—and Jesus, this hopeful  person, was an apocalyptic thinker…Jesus tells us, his followers, to hope, because God’s  reign here on earth is about to begin, and it’s time to get ready for this new order of 
goodness, justice, peace and love.
   B. It encourages us to be faithful 

5. "To think apocalyptically then, is to live in a state of hopeful neediness If we’re hopefully needy, we know that our own strengths and abilities will ultimately not be enough to address our own needs or the needs of the world around us. But we have faith that God is with us and will help us.  

6. "Lookout for hopeful signs…we have seen wise people like those described in the book of Daniel who shine like the brightness of the sky, and we have known those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever,” people like Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, and Oliver Fortune. 

7. "When we live in hopeful neediness for God, we see God’s hand at work in the world around us, in the lives of others, and we can even see God’s hand at work in each of our own lives. 

8. "Importance of being sustained by the community of faith. Sometimes the only way we can even catch a glimpse of God’s faithfulness to us is in our own faithfulness to one another…so that when we lack faith, we can be sustained by those who are full of faith. 

9. "The love we have for one another helps us to have faith in the living and breathing and growing love that God has for each one of us.And–the love we have for one another is the result of the love that God has for us. 

10. "In Advent we need to hold fast to hope. So as we draw closer to the season of Advent, as we once again wait for God’s coming to dwell with us, not only for Jesus to pitch his tent with us as the Word made flesh, but also as we continue to wait with hopeful neediness for God’s coming in glory at the end of time,may we join Jesus in being apocalypticists, and hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for God IS faithful. " 

Commentary by Canon Lance Ousley, Diocese of Olympia

Listening to Jesus’ words in the Gospel lesson this week I can’t help but be reminded of many of our churches that have fallen in disrepair due to deferred maintenance. Obviously this is not good stewardship of the legacy of property that has been handed down and entrusted to our care for the mission of God’s kingdom. However, we too, are not to make these or any other material thing the objects of our worship. Our worship is reserved for the praise of the one true God we know in the Holy Trinity as revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Worship of God and it’s expression through missional action are the priorities of our stewardship. It is within that perspective that we are called to take proper care of property, material and financial resources as stewards of these things for Christ’s mission.

Certainly in Jesus’ day the Temple establishment had lost its focus on carrying out God’s work in the world. This was revealed in last week’s Gospel lesson as Jesus accused the Scribes of ‘devouring the homes of widows’ for their own material benefit by absconding with the alms meant for the care of the poor. The cultural over-emphasis on the material had influenced the disciples, too, evidenced by their marveling at the magnificence of the Temple buildings in Jesus’ presence. It made me think how often we in the Church can be distracted by materialism from our real focus in the presence of Christ. In our passage from Hebrews this week, we see the transcendence from the material to the incarnate God in the curtain of Jesus’ flesh being opened for our access to the divine sanctuary.

Too often stewardship is approached from a perspective focused on the material or financial (ie. budget) instead of the relationship we have with God and all of humanity for their well-being as God’s people. This misplaced focus is what caused the ultimate fall of the Temple hierarchy. This is what most often causes wars and conflicts – nation to rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. And it can cause a congregation to lose its integrity with the Gospel and spiral downward due to a lack of missional authenticity.

As the Church, we always are called to care for our resources with the proper perspective of God’s kingdom proclamation and establishment as the priority. Hannah echoes this perspective, praying for a son for herself, she also promises for him to be set apart for this work. Her song sings out the vision of God’s kingdom reversing injustices in the world. Daniel’s vision gives us a glimpse of the Divine reversal of fortune of oppressed and oppressor. We are called to focus and utilize all that we are and all that we have for God’s kingdom come and to take proper care of these for this purpose.

What temples need to fall in your life or your congregation to keep your focus on the priority relationship with the Incarnate God and God’s people found in all of humanity? What kind of deferred material or spiritual maintenance needs to be done to ensure the stewardship of these assets for God’s kingdom use?

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