Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 28

Track 1: The Peaceable Kingdom

Isaiah 65:17-25
Canticle 9
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
Luke 21:5-19

On this earth, foolish people pursue a utopia. History has proven that i9 cannot be achieved, certainly by human effort. But something better is comig.

For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;

the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.

But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;

for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.

I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;

no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.

No more shall there be in it
an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;

for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.   (Isaiah 65:0-17-20)

On this earth, we long for lasting peace. But it will not come by human effort. Only the Prince of Peace can bring this about. Again, Isaiah prophesied:

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent– its food shall be dust!

They shall not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.   (Isaiah 65:25)

How is all of this to be achieved? Isaiah gives us the answer:

Surely, it is God who saves me;
I will trust in him and not be afraid.

For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense,
and he will be my Savior.

Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing
from the springs of salvation.

And on that day you shall say,
Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;

Make his deeds known among the peoples;
see that they remember that his Name is exalted.   (Isaiah 12:2-6)

Do we trust in God for our future? Or are we holding on to the past? Many of God’s chosen people were holding on to a physical temple. It had beauty and was used by God for a season. We read in today’s appointed Gospel:

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”   (Luke 21:5-6)

They held onto their temple but missed the body of Christ. What are we holding onto today? God is building a future for us. He is our future. Our path to him and all that he will provide is through the Lord Jesus Christ. All other paths ultimately lead to destruction and death. Jesus said:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”   (John 14:6)


Track 2: From Rocks to the Rock

Malachi 4:1-2a
Psalm 98
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13
Luke 21:5-19

His disciples grew up with the temple. It was their most sacred treasure. Imagine what they felt like when they heard Jesus speak about its destruction:

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”

They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, `I am he!’ and, `The time is near!’ Do not go after them.   (Luke 21:5-8)

Jesus warned about imposters. We have seen some of them. They promise so much and deliver so little.

Jesus goes on to say:

“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.   (Luke 21:9-11)

We live in uncertain times. We are seeing the beginning of birth pangs, We may be looking for something to which we may hold. Jesus is that something. If we chose him, this could be our future:

“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.” (Luke 21:12-19)

We are in a time when we are required to take a stand, Sooner or later our beliefs will be challenged. What will be our stand? On whom will we stand? Will we stand upon The Rock that is solid and unshakeable, when everything around us is shaking? In his sermon on the mount Jesus said:

Everyone, then, who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”   (Matthew 7:24-27)

Yes, there will be persecution of Christians. That is becoming very clear. Jesus said:

it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, fear the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”   (Matthew 10:26-29)


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