November 13, 2006

Looking Forward to November 19, 2006 -- 24th Sunday after Pentecost

The Scripture Readings for this week are:
  • From the Jewish Scriptures: 1 Samuel 1:14-20
  • Responsive Reading: 1 Samuel 2:1-10 (on insert)
  • From the Gospel: Mark 13:1-8, 24-37

The Hymns for the week are:

  • 333 Love Divine All Love’s Excelling
  • 713 I See a New Heaven
  • 688 O Day of God Draw Nigh
  • 424 May the God of Hope Go With Us

The Sermon title is The Coming of Trouble

Early Thoughts:

8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs (Mark 13:8)

The 13th chapter of Mark is not pleasant reading. It is a passage that talks about coming troubles, about fear and destruction, about the end times.

At issue for us is not how soon the end-times are coming. For 2000 years now there have been people who were convinced that they were right around the corner. In fact, it could easily be argued that the end-times are always just around the corner but the corner keeps moving ahead of us. At issue for us is how do we live in the coming of troubles.

I am struck by Mark's use of the term birthpangs. It seems so right to me. We all know that birth is not a happy go lucky event. Often it is hard and painful and there is an element of danger. That seems to be how change happens in the world -- a lot of yelling and crying (and sometimes cursing) with an undercurrent of danger and the knowledge that life will never be the same again.

Jill Warner has a song called Life in the Goo, The title comes from the birth of Butterflies. As children we are often given the impression that the emergence from a cocoon is easy. In fact the new butterfly has to fight its way through the gooey mess that was the cocoon before it can dry its wings and fly. Jill suggests that often this is what the life of faith is about. The chorus goes:

Life in the Goo, what's a body to do
Some days you don't know if you'll ever get through.
But God has promised to be there for you
so every now and then you live your life in the goo.

Somedays you don't know if you'll ever get through the troubles that come when the world is changing. But the truth is that God has promised to be there in the troubles. Goo is a part of life. But we can make it through. And the real promise is that it will all be worth it in the end. In the end there will be something to show for it. A newborn hope, a newborn world. We have to go through the birthpangs, but there will be something to show for it eventually (sometimes labour takes an awful awful long time).

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