Pentecost 25 – Nov 14, 2021 – Apocalyptic readings

 Pentecost 25 Nov. 14, 2021(full size gallery)

We had 32 in the service and online – one of the best Sundays for attendance. The Duke family was here and participated in a game at the announcements – What is missing ? We had forgotten to light the candles.

This week is the 7th anniversary of the Village Harvest. The history and benefits of the ministry were reviewed. While our numbers are shrinking compared to past years, the volume of goods has been maintained so that it is even a better value for the 80 or so who come every month. We made a pitch for getting donations of $500 to support 25% of the Village Harvest bill/

We also spotlighted the United Thank Offering collection going on this month. It is one of the earliest women’s ministries. Last year their work centered around the pandemic

The focus for 2022 grants is Care of Creation: Turning love into action by caring for God’s creation to protect the most vulnerable—who will bear the largest burden of pollution and climate change—through justice, advocacy, environmental reparations, or the development of formation materials.

The service revolved around the Book of Daniel both in the Old Testament and sermon

From the sermon – “The writer of Daniel, though, saw in the sky a vision of the possibilities for our own lives now, and throughout eternity. The brightness of the sky reminded the writer of the people who in this lifetime attain wisdom. The stars reminded the writer of the ones who lead others to righteousness.

“The ones who are wise and righteous on this earth are the ones who have learned to open their hearts to God and to their neighbor and to keep their hearts open, even in the times of anguish that we all must face in our lifetimes.

“We keep open hearts by the consistent and diligent practice of loving God and loving our neighbors, especially when we most desire to slam the doors of our hearts shut because we’ve been hurt, or when we feel threatened, or when we are angry.

Today’s readings encourage us to hold fast to our faith, even in troubled times and persecution. Daniel speaks of a time of great trouble, through which the righteous will “shine like the stars.” As the Day of the Lord approaches, the author of Hebrews tells us that our hard struggle with suffering will be rewarded. In today’s gospel, Mark assures us that—even in chaos—God remains in control. The readings are leading us to Christ the King Sunday and particular Advent 1 in theme

The book of Daniel (Daniel 12:1-3) is an example of a kind of writing that flourished in the period between the Old Testament and the New Testament called apocalyptic literature. The name comes from a Greek word meaning to unveil, reveal, disclose. Such writing was common during periods of national or community tribulation, which are interpreted through signs and symbols to disclose the unseen reality of God’s purpose beneath the appearance of disaster.

For believers facing death, the belief in resurrection expresses their profound hope in a sovereign God who will triumph over the forces of death, restoring the believers to life.

Two other images in this text are worth exploring. First, the image of those who are found “written in the book” that will be described in Revelation 20:12, 15 as “the book of life” (cf. also Psalm 87:6; Isaiah 4:3; Malachi 3:16) constitutes a compelling image of the importance of being remembered.

Finally, the image of the ones who are wise and who are said to have led many to righteousness directs our focus to what this text says not only about the sweet hereafter, but also about this life.

Thus, even in the most dire of circumstances, these faithful offer a model of looking beyond oneself to how one can be of service to others

The book of Daniel is attributed to a certain Daniel, who had been taken captive by the Babylonians (c. 605 BCE) before the final fall of Jerusalem (586 BCE). Many contemporary scripture scholars think that the book was actually written much later, during the fierce conflict triggered by Antiochus IV (175–164 BCE), who desecrated the Jewish temple by setting up a heathen altar there. According to this view, many of the prophetic portions of the book are actually symbolic interpretations of the events then taking place.

Psalm 16, a song of trust in God, seems to be set in a context where some Israelites worship other gods (v. 4). Though the psalm is one of supplication, the petition itself takes only one half of a verse (v. 1). The remainder of the prayer is a meditation on the reasons the psalmist can turn to God in this time of need.

The author of Hebrews (Hebrews 10:11-14, (15-18), 19-25) compares the work of the Levitical priest to the superior work of Jesus. The priest from Levi’s line had to offer sacrifices on a daily basis. These sacrifices, though symbolic of forgiveness through the shedding of blood, could not accomplish true purity. Jesus offered a different kind of sacrifice. The greatness of this one sacrifice attained perfection, not just outward cleansing, and assured eternal consecration. No further offering for sin is required.

In verses 19-25, the author draws out the implications of Jesus’ complete work. As to our relationship with God, nothing remains to obstruct our full communion. As to our spiritual lives, we hope for the approaching day of final judgment and full revelation. As to our relationships with others, we live to encourage and support one another.

Chapter 13 of Mark (Mark 13:1-8) is known as the “little apocalypse.” It is full of ominous signs and strong counsel. Mark has combined various sayings of Jesus related to events in the near and far future. Some have already come true, but because prophecy often has many applications, they may some day be fulfilled again in a deeper way.

Jesus’ disciples comment on the temple’s magnificence, which embodied for the Jews their religious hopes and identity. Yet this temple, finally finished in AD 64, was a pile of rubble after Titus’s invasion and devastation in AD 70. Jesus bids his disciples to turn from the apparent permanence and grandeur of the temple in order to place their trust in God’s sovereignty.

The early Church suffered from conflicting fears that the end time had already come or that it would not come. Given Jesus’ prediction (v. 13:2), the Roman siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple (AD 66–70) may have prompted speculation that the second coming was imminent. Yet it is most important not to be misled by premature claims that Christ has come (13:6). False prophets were an endemic problem for the early Church. Mark’s conclusion in regard to Jesus’ second coming is: “Yes, not yet but soon—watch!”

All that was threatened by their new religion, then lost when Roman armies demolished the temple. It does not require a great leap of the imagination to see them feeling abandoned and without direction. To his community and to us, Mark issues a warning: watch. Be cautious of simplistic solutions, of the desire to cling to possessions and security. Beware of even well-meaning political reformers who simply replace one form of domination with another. Christ alone is our new direction, our liberation and only security.