|Sermon Preparation -
November 15, 1998
Celebrate the Gift Sunday -- we estimate our financial support of St. Luke's in 1999.
Some people were talking about the beautiful stones used to build the temple and about the gifts that had been placed in it. Jesus said, "do you see these stones? the time is coming when not one of them will be left in place. They will all be knocked down."
Some people asked, "Teacher, when will all this happen? How can we know when these things are about to take place?"
"Don't be fooled by those who will come and claim to be me. They will say, 'I am Christ?' and 'Now is the time?' But don't follow them. When you hear about wars and riots, don't be afraid. These things will have to happen first, but that isn't the end.
"Nations will go to war against one another, and kingdoms will attack each other. There will be great earthquakes, and in many places people will starve to death and suffer terrible diseases. All sorts of frightening things will be seen in the sky.
"Before all this happens, you will be arrested and punished. You will be tried in your meeting places and put in jail. Because of me you will be placed on trial before kings and governors. But this will be your chance to tell about your faith.
"Don't worry about what you will say to defend yourselves. I will give you the wisdom to know what to say. None of your enemies will be able to oppose you or to say that you are wrong. You will be betrayed by your own parents, brothers, family, and friends. Some of you will even be killed. Because of me, you will be hated by everyone. But don't worry! You will be saved by being faithful to me." [CEV]
1. There is not a direct, logical, cause-and-effect, relationship between disastrous events and the transition from this old earth and heaven to a new heaven and earth. Therefore we are not immobilized by troubles and think they are the end. How often have you heard those young in the faith say, "I'll just die if ... happens." Our faith is not limited by troubles, even if it should include death.
2. What does it mean in America, late 1998, to be saved by being faithful to Jesus? What is important enough in life to go ahead and risk the wild and exciting ride of a radically giving faith? Will the faithful be put on trial because they affront the way the world does business which is: when there is trouble abroad you pull in your care and barricade yourself? For instance: would a challenge to a strict market economy that strives for the largest profit in the shortest run be treasonable? What would Jesus say about the wealth of our country and the wide gap between rich and poor?
3. Don't worry? Easy for Jesus to say! What would it be like to downsize our care for our belongings so we wouldn't worry about their loss? Would this help us to not worry or would it increase our worry? Would it make a difference if you look at it through the eyes of a supportive community or through the eyes of having to be responsible for your own life? Where really lies our faith?
How bold can you be in giving your life away because you can't it is already and always held by a loving, living GOD?
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