1st Scripture Reading: Isaiah 65:17-25 & Isaiah 12 (VU p.880)
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens from A Tale of Two Cities. This book was first published in 1859, but this quote could easily be describing the conditions we find permeating our world today.
Paradoxical as it seems, these opposing realities do coexist and have done so since the beginning of human history, I suspect. As we survey the onset of ecological disaster, we are confronted with climate change deny ers and those who cannot see the need to change our economic priorities, while at the same time watching our children and youth rally around a teenage climate heroine who proclaims the need for climate action.
We are glued to the news feed around the impeachment process to unseat President Donald Trump, juxtaposing the wisdom of the writers of the constitution of the USA with the dangerous abuse of power that can happen in the hands of a rogue leader.
When I was a student midwife in England a long time ago, I never got used to how - no matter how hard the labour and birth was, women turned within moments to their new baby in joy and happiness, all thoughts of the pain they had just endured gone. A woman who had just been through agony moments before, suddenly appeared glowing in the enjoyment of her new child. It is always darkest just before the dawn – but the dawn does come – it does come.
And it is still God’s world. And as always there is only us to both blame and to celebrate. There is only us to destroy the world around us, and there is only us to imagine a better way to live – a way that honours our Creator and assures a future for our children.
And God waits, patiently, for us to realize that we must heal the fractured psyche within us. We must ask for help to heal the divided selves that we are, and to make us whole.
We must find all the discarded parts of ourselves and bring them together. Paul said it best in his letter to the Galatians (3:28): “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
In Christ Jesus we find the healing that we need. In Christ we find the wholeness that the world needs. The fractures do exist. But healing is provided. There will be a new dawning for a new day. And then we will know that in the Spirit we are indeed One.
Each one of us must search out the lost parts and welcome them home. The male must find and honour the female within, the female must find and recognize the male. The stranger must be welcomed as family. The prisoner must be freed. No one will be left behind – God is with us, we are not alone, thanks be to God.
Hymn # 144 MV “Like a Healing Stream
2nd Scripture Reading: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 & Luke 21:5-19
“Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.” Paul’s instructions to the Thessalonians are very clear – and they are based on some sound theological concepts. He tells them to “imitate us” and that he and his colleagues are here to give them an example to imitate – an example of how we should live together.
What inspires these comments is perhaps more clearly stated in his letter to the Ephesians 5:1: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us…”
And so we see, children of God, that we are invited to see the lives of Paul and of Jesus as examples of how to live the spiritual life, according to the teachings of Jesus.
The spiritual life – as opposed to the material or worldly life. Jesus talks about the destruction of Jerusalem as an example of something not to be confused with a spiritual life. “The days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”
Let me read you a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The poem is “Ozymandias”. (youTube video read by Jack Donovan)
And so. Our work on this planet, indeed our very existence here, is very transient. None of it will survive forever.
But I do not find that hopeless. There is so much more going on here than we can know at this time. Stay awake seekers! Stay tuned! Keep your mind on the spiritual life. For God is always doing a new thing, and in the new dawn of a new day – I’m pretty sures it will be amazing!
Hymn: Psalm 100 “Make a Joyful Noise”