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Home » Blog » Sunday Worship, November 12, 2023

Sunday Worship, November 12, 2023

To view the sermon, it starts 36 minutes into the service.

If you don’t have time to view the service, here’s a general outline of the sermon.
There’s usually not enough time to dive deep and unpack theological understandings. What I say today is an attempt to articulate and to make you think. 
Today, I am talking about timing and preparation. Next week, we’ll take a look at some passages that describe the tribulations that are expected to occur before he returns.  
The expectation has shifted over time and is even seen differently in the New Testament. 
There are plenty of historical examples of groups of Christians who were convinced Jesus’ seconding coming would soon be here. Every time, they perceive their current troubles, the chaos during their times. 
It’s sort of like the joke from the movie Lincoln. Lincoln says:
          I heard tell once of a Jefferson
          City lawyer who had a parrot that’d
          wake him each morning crying out,
          “Today is the day the world shall
          end, as scripture has foretold.”
          And one day the lawyer shot him for
          the sake of peace and quiet, I
          presume, thus fulfilling, for the
          bird at least, its prophecy!
From the beginning, Christians have anticipated that Jesus would return. Christians have hoped and have faith in Christ’s return. In other words, The Second Coming and along him will be the kingdom of God. Finally here on earth. 
First off, end times in the New Testament are largely seen as the end of an age. And that Christ’s return will usher in a transformative new age. Where he will be the peaceful king, better than any present earthly ruler. 
At the beginning, early Christians thought Jesus would return in his lifetime. They weren’t looking for an escape plan from this world. They were expecting that Jesus would return and transform this world, our world. 
Christ would return to end their oppression, to end their poverty, to end their hunger. Now in their present. 
AS the lyrics of O Holy Night so beautifully articulate say during Christmas. And as seen in the movie Home Alone. 
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
We see that the expectation that this would happen in these writings of Paul.
Jesus says, in Matthew 24: 32-35 
32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he[a] is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.(A) 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away
We see in 
1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18 “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
Paul’s letter is written in response to questions that the church in Thessalonica has. 
From what we’ve read here, we can imagine their question was related to what are they supposed to believe since Jesus has not returned. After all, some of them are dying and dead. What now!?
Again, Paul answers them> For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
Paul’s words are written to comfort and assure the believers who are alive but mourn the dead. 
In 1st Corinthians 15: 51-53, “We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 
Again, Paul says, “We will not all die.”
In Second Corinthians Paul offers another. 6:1 
6 As we work together with him, we entreat you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,
“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
    and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”

Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation!
Paul goes onto say, We are putting no obstacles in anyone’s way so that no fault may be found with our ministry.”
Perhaps Paul is responding to a charge that he tells them to wait for the salvation that comes when Jesus arrives. Paul instead says, no need to wait salvation is here. 
Here, salvation is now. The judgment foretold is in the present. Like in Luke 17, the kingdom of God is near us or is among you. 
2nd Peter 8-10
8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be destroyed with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
Here in this book, Peter argues that the wait is long because God experiences God differently. 
Like in 2 Corinthians, the Gospel of John, Jesus return is 
Our Gospel passage today is part of the expectation of Christ’s return. 
The bridesmaids are the followers of Jesus. 
Some who are prepared and others who are not. 
The foolish are not prepared. The wise are. 
The await the groom’s return. 
If the foolish bridesmaids, wonder why they weren’t prepared. Maybe, they needed what Jesus says at the end of chapter 25.
for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 
Over and over again, in the New Testament the message, though, is not to be concerned when it will happen. But to be faithful always. What we are to do is be faithful to Christ’s Gospel of peace and joy. We are called to be Bridesmaids who are prepared. Our preparation is found in attending to The Gathering, supporting Friedens Food Pantries and other ways that contribute to new life and resurrection now. Our preparation is found in spreading the Gospel of Love. Our preparation is building the kingdom of God now and ushering in a transformative new age now.
Part two next week.