Isaiah 65:17-25. Isaiah’s vision of a new heaven and new earth, a place where God dwells, and where all people enjoy prosperity, health, well-being and long life.
Isaiah 12. A promise that a time is coming when God’s people will call on God and be delivered, when they will praise God for God’s goodness and mighty acts on their behalf, and when they will publicise God’s praise to the world.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13. Paul admonishes the believers to be disciplined, to concentrate on their own work and do it well, and to ensure that they do not grow tired of doing what is right.
Luke 21:5-19. Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple, and warns his followers about the false messiahs, wars, and persecutions that they will have to face.
The Reverend Tania Writes:
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the evil and suffering in the world. It is also easy to be overwhelmed by the grand scope and challenge of the Gospel and its vision of a restored world. But, in the midst of these two overwhelming realities is a simple, but powerful response – the contribution that is made by a life of daily discipline and faithfulness to what is right. Such small contributions, when put together, make a significant difference in the big scheme of things. Again, it’s not the first time the lectionary has challenged us in this way, but it is an important message as we seek to live out our faith in practical ways that do offer value to others.
In most of the readings this week, two themes seem to stand side by side. The first is the theme of evil, persecution and God’s judgement on wickedness. Luke’s Gospel speaks directly about this, and of how God protects God’s faithful ones through such turbulent times, while Isaiah 12 implies it. The second theme is that of restoration and of God’s final, peaceful, prosperous world, in which all people live in well-being and joy. Isaiah 12 & 65 both describe this. These two themes complement each other in that they describe the working out of God’s salvation history in human affairs: evil and strife are at work in the world, and people who live according God’s alternative values are misunderstood and persecuted, but God’s reign continues to work, and to transform the world and its people into loving, peaceful and just men and women. This is not so much a war between good and evil as it is the evolution of the world from chaos and immaturity into beauty, creativity and maturity in God’s gracious, compassionate purposes.
In the middle of this grand cosmic scenario, Paul’s message to the Thessalonians appears misplaced. However, when it comes down to it, the very thing that sustains us during the turbulent times, and that ultimately transforms worlds, is the committed, disciplined living of a good, responsible, practical life by people of faith. Simply by working each day faithfully and in goodness, God’s salvation and ‘shalom’ enters our world. Small contributions really do make a difference in the grand scheme of things.
May we be inspired to continue our small, faithful acts of following Christ through this week’s worship.
Blessings as we seek to know Christ and make Him known! ! Rev Tania