GSC 18 November 2018
The readings for this last but one Sunday of the Christian Year give us much to think about and, like all Christian paradox they are a cause both of fear and encouragement.
We begin with the prophet Daniel`s apocalyptic vision of Michael the Archangel – the Princely Archangel who is often artistically portrayed holding the Sword and Scales of Justice before Christ the Eternal Judge at the end of time. Many people live in fear of what is to happen at the end of time and it is awesome to think that one day, through our calling and faithfulness we will be gathered with all who have gone before us with the sign of faith, and those too who follow after us will be gathered up to the Lord. We are told that the one great sacrifice for sins has been made already and we must cling to the Lord. The very passage that was read this morning tells of how those whose names are written in the Book of Life will be spared to shine brightly for all eternity. However, we must not forget the second part of the quotation: “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some shall liv e forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.” This is the kind of statement that makes us aware of our waywardness, human frailty, our need of God`s loving forgiveness and grace to come to repentance and even causes us to fear that we may not be counted among those who are chosen.
The short passage from the Letter to the Hebrews consisting of just five verses from chapter 10 contrasts the priesthood of Christ with the priesthood of the Old Testament, whose members spend their daily duties offering bloody sacrifices over and over again but which are quite incapable of taking sins away, with that of the eternal High Priesthood of Jesus Christ who has offered one single sacrifice for sins, and then has taken his place for ever, at the right hand of the Father, where he waits until his enemies are made into a footstall for him. This is because He is the High Priest who offers Himself as the eternal Sacrifice in that one single offering, and so achieves the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying! This passage points us toward the truth that only Jesus, who is truly God and truly man, can make expiation for our sins making the one sacrifice for sins that never needs to be repeated. Sin is conquered only in and through Jesus Christ and yet sin is only overcome in us when we become one with Him. Yes, God so truly loves us that he sends His Only Son to take away sin so that we have that opportunity of living forever with God.
The gospel reading from St. Mark chapter 13 tells of Jesus foretelling the Last Things and His own return as the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory after the sun and moon have been darkened to reveal His glory when he will send his angels to gather the chosen from the four winds and from the ends of the world to the ends of the heavens and although the implication is there that all this will take place before the generation to which he is speaking will have passed away. perhaps this is a figurative way of speaking for Jesus continues, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. He then goes on to say, `But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.`
In the Christian Life the need for repentance is ever before us and it really does not matter to know when the end is coming but rather to live today and every day as if it is our last – as though we might be called by God to leave this world today! As though the end be right now. In short there is no sense in pretending in our relationship with God for he know our hearts and minds better than we do ourselves. Our Christian discipleship simply required that we get on with living now as if it is our last moment – no fear, no upset, no anxiety but, rather, completely trusting in the love of the Lord.