Unfolding toward God’s restoration

Homily for Parish of St. Timothy’s Terence Bay, Nova Scotia, Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost, 18 November 2018, 7:00 PM

Book of Alternative Services, Proper 33; Hebrews10:12–25; Mark 13:1-8

Audio: https://douglasabeck.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/26thsunafterpentbasprop33_2018.m4a

Collect of the Day

Almighty God, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to be the light of the world.

Free us from all that darkens and ensnares us, And bring us to eternal light and joy;

Through the power of him Who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

One God, now and for ever. Amen

___________________________________

In the Name of the One Holy Undivided God, the Holy Trinity: + Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Tonight’s homily is a two-parter.

Part One has to do with the Gospel that we just heard. It can sound scary, so I want to spend some time with you around it.

Then, in Part Two, we’ll connect what I am about so say to today’s Epistle from Hebrews. I have a copy for each of you. We’ll do some reflective reading and listening. We’ll observe what the Holy Spirit is saying to each of us and enter into a time for each of you to share your insights with all of us, as you feel led to do so.

I.

In Mark’s Gospel we hear a conversation between Jesus and the disciples about end things. We tend to think of the language that they use as apocalyptic.

Just the other day this headline at cnn.com caught my attention. “IN CALIFORNIA THE APOCALYPSE KEEPS GETTING WORSE” (Seen November 15 2018 at http://www.cnn.com). The story was about the horrific California. “IN CALIFORNIA THE APOCALYPSE KEEPS GETTING WORSE” This suggests that the apocalypse is not a single event, but that it is unfolding.

As I read this headline, I couldn’t help but think about today’s Gospel. In it Jesus talks about the apocalypse in similar terms. The word apocalypse literally means “an uncovering” or “a revealing”. It doesn’t sound like an ending at all, does it? Rather, Jesus explains that there will be those who speak in his name falsely, they will claim to be the Christ, there will be wars and the threat of wars, nations and kingdoms will rise up against one another, there will be earthquakes and famines…just for starters! These things are not so much deaths but birth pangs. And, birth pangs always precede the birth of something new. What will be new is the fulfillment of God’s mission – the restoration of all things to God’s self.

In the Book of Revelation Jesus says: “And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also, he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ Then he said to me, ‘It is done [it is accomplished through me]! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 21:5,6).

 II.

In the Letter of Hebrews, Chapter Ten that I have here for you, we learn that this Christ who is the Alpha and Omega – well, he is the great high priest over the House of God! The writer reminds us that — come what may — Jesus has become our Temple. He hasbeen restored to the Father’s nearer presence. Because he has, by God’s grace, we may also. And, all will be made well.

So, whether the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem with its large stones being thrown down from one another…or, the horrific loss of life and property by wildfires, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, an uncertain medical prognosis…nothing changes the fact that Christ reigns as our high priest and all are involved in a process that will ultimately bring restoration, healing and wholeness.

Now let’s take a few minutes of quiet to spend with this Word asking the Holy Spirit to inspire our hearts.

What is the Spirit saying through you that needs to be spoken to one another this night? If the Spirit is asking you to listen, rather than speak, that is fine too. There’s no need to fear being right or wrong in this conversation.

“Encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

In the Name of the One Holy Undivided God, the Holy Trinity: + Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Amen.