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Sermon and Prayers for Ordinary 33 - Proper 28 - Year C
Isaiah 65:17-15; Isaiah 12; Luke 21:5-19
"When The World is Shaken"



READING:  Isaiah 65:17-15; Isaiah 12; Luke 21:5-19 
SERMON :  "When The World is Shaken"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-or30sn 807000
                    
  The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon for
   the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are found in
   the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".  


* HYMN:  "Breath On Me Breath of God"                              - VU 385

* HYMN:  "Will Your Anchor Hold"                                   - VU 675
     
* HYMN:  "O Day of God, Draw Nigh"                                 - VU 688

* HYMN:  "God of Grace and God of Glory"                           - VU 686 


PRAYER OF CONFESSION
L  Father, we thank you for the promise of a new heaven and new earth.
P  We praise you for the wonders you have declared you will perform.
L  As we wait, O lord, 
   we ask that you cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
P  Forgive us Lord for the times when we doubt; when we let our hands
    lie idle and our hearts flag in zeal for your way.
L  Forgive us for the times of despair, when we give the victory to Satan 
   by denying in our thoughts and our words 
   your love and your power. 
P  Forgive us Lord for the times when we have sinned, 
   for when we have deliberately ignored and broken your law,
   or turned away from you due to ignorance and neglect.
   ............... (silent prayer) ...............
L  Help us Lord to overcome the evil one as we wait for your revealing.
   Put within us a new spirit of commitment, dedication, and joy.
P  Touch us and make us whole.  Amen


SERMON:  "When The World Is Shaken"

   Lord, quieten our hearts that we may listen to Your still small
   voice, so that in hearing Your Word we may respond in fervent faith. 
   As Jesus led disciples of old, so lead us your children today.  We
   ask it his name.  Amen.

Each year, towards the end of the liturgical year, the Church proposes, for
the Sunday readings, texts that speak to us about the end times.  

We all know about prophets of doom in our modern age that speak to us about
the end times.

From the cartoons showing raggedly dressed men with sandwich boards
   proclaiming "the end is nigh" -- to the well dressed folk on Television
   telling us how the Year 2000 bug may bring about, if not the end of our
   civilization, then at least massive chaos and wide spread suffering as
   our world wide economy collapses, 
there are no end of reminders regarding how soon the end may be.

In fact from before the time of Jesus, to the master himself, and from the
Lord till this very day,the predictions of the end of time as we know it
have come fast and furious,
   this despite the word's of Jesus that while we may know the season of
   the end, none but God above knows the actual time.

It is all pretty frightening stuff, but - here - almost 2000 years from the
time when Jesus spoke of the end of the world -
   unless you a doom sayer that likes to get people excited with
   predictions about the suffering to come,
       - or a person whose delight it is to try to scare people into
       believing in God by showing how everything in the bible about the
       end of time is coming true this very century,
it is kind of difficult to really get worked up about prophecies like that
we heard today,
   be it the prophecy of Isaiah - who describes the coming of the new
   heaven and new earth
       or Jesus who describes the passing of the old heaven and the old
       earth.

Yet there is an important message contained in all end time prophecies,
at least those prophecies that are biblical in nature.

I believe it does us well to pay attention to what scripture has to say
about the end, 
   not just so we might be equipped to face that horrendous ending and
   glorious new beginning, whenever it might occur,
but so we might be equipped as well for those endings in our daily lives, 
those times when our personal and private worlds are shaken to the core,
   those times when the walls of the temples in our lives: the temples in
   which we place our confidence and our hope, our safety and of pride, 
come tumbling down.

And it will surely happen, my friends.

Just as surely as the glorious temple constructed by King Herod
   the temple even finer than that of king Solomon
came tumbling down 40 years after Jesus said that they would,
so the temples in our lives, 
so most of those human things in which we trust,
   will also collapse from time to time throughout our lives.

Those of you out here who have gone through divorce know what I mean; 
and those of you bereaved, especially bereaved by the loss of a partner or
a son or a daughter, know what I mean.

The world as you have know it comes to an end.  Those things, those people,
those events you have relied upon - trusted in - believed in are either
gone or they have turned against you.

Such times are tests of our faith.
Such times are a test of our God.  
Such times are a time of great need in our lives.

Many people, when the temples they have constructed in their lives collapse
reach in desperation to anyone or anything that promises to bring
deliverance - be it the apricot pit cure for cancer down in Mexico, or the
spiritualist who promises to not only heal us with her touch but to get us
in touch with spirit of the universe.

But this is can be a serious mistake.  One that Jesus warns us of after
speaking of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, when the people
ask: "Teacher, when will this take place".

       And he said: "Beware that you 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"

Do not go after them.

The best thing we can do when our world is collapsing,
is stand fast and hold on to what we know is sure and true -
to the rock which cannot move
to the anchor which can hold us safe and fast.

What is true is that God is for us.

Even when we are wondering if our faith is sham,
Or worse, if our God is a sham -
Even when we are wondering if we are to blame for what has happened
or worse, that God is against us,
God is - and God is for us.

The collapse of our personal temples,
   and the wars and the rumours of wars beyond our doors,
       and the inquisition which others put us through when we have really
       blown it, or that we put ourselves through,
              even the persecutions which our brothers and sisters will
              have to endure
are to be expected.

This is what will happen out there in the entire world before the new
heaven and new earth arrive.  And this is what happens within our lives,
before the fullness of the new life transforms us.

Do not worry, Jesus says, about these times.
   Don't spend a lot of time thinking up grand defences or wonderful ways
   in which to confound those who are tormenting you.
Rather trust God to give you the answers you need,
   even when brothers and sisters turn on you.
Rely on God for the words and the wisdom 
   that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.
Rely on God to bring you safely through the times of testing and
   tribulation
the God who promises that not a hair of our heads will perish,
but by our endurance, by our faith, we will gain our souls.

In short - when the world is collapsing,
   take no thought about how to save yourself
       but rather think about what is the right thing to do minute by
       minute, day by day, 
knowing that when you are doing what is right,
   when you are as being as loving as you can be and as honest as you know
   how,
       when you are putting your faith in God and being not afraid to
       testify to his good purpose
then you are serving as a light to lift the darkness that lies around us
all and that your life will be save in that light.

Mortality is all about us -
a day of judgement comes to all things.

That judgement comes not simply to destroy that which is due to pass away
but it is there as well to make a place for a new world,
a world in which heaven and earth are united as one,
a world of wholeness.

Out of that divorce - when what is right is done as much it can be -
can come a new wholeness - in which family is made stronger.

Out of that bereavement come a new understanding of the meaning of life,
a new way of living it with gratitude and thankfulness.

Out of that layoff - that firing - can come a whole new course of life,
one full of hope, just as out of the passing of the temple in Jerusalem is
coming a new world.

We are called to make witness,
to testify to God
as this world passes.

WE are called to prepare ourselves and to help prepare others for the new
and better world to come, even as the darkness of the old world grows
around us, in the way that the night becomes darkest just before the new
dawn.

There is a story told about the monk who once approached Buddha and asked 

   Do the souls of the righteous survive death?

   Characteristically the Buddha gave him no reply.  But the monk
   persisted.  Each day he would repeat the question and each day he
   would get silence for an answer, till he could take it no longer. 
   He threatened to abandon the path to enlightenment unless this
   crucial question was answered, for to what purpose, he wanted to
   know, was he sacrificing everything to live in the monastery if the
   souls of the righteous perished with their bodies?

   Then Buddha, in his compassion, spoke.

   You are like a man, he said, who was dying from a poisoned arrow. 
   His relatives rushed a doctor to his side, but the man refused to
   have the arrow pulled out unless three vital questions were first
   answered.

   First, the man who shot him - was he a white man or a black? 
   Second, was he a tall man or a short man?  And third, was he a
   Brahmin or an outcast?

My friends as we look at scriptures like those that were read today,
   scriptures concerning the end of things and the new beginning that
   follows that end,
and then look at the world around us 
   - with its fullness of signs and portents
it makes little sense for us to engage in debate as to whether or not the
time is now, or a bit later,
   especially when we know in our deepest heart that for each of us
   personally the time is coming or has already come when the world is
   shaken, and our humanly constructed temples 
       - those places of our pride and our joy and our sense of security
   have fallen - or will yet fall.

We can pluck out the poison arrow before it destroys our lives and find the
new life God gives and we can show the way of life and of hope to others,
so that instead of being lost they may be able to welcome a new heaven and
a new earth with us.

May God see us through our trials and tribulations.
May your faith grow and prove to be strong and radiant light to others.

Blessed be God, day by day.  Amen

 
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
We are glad and rejoice forever in you, O God.  With joy we draw deeply
from your well of salvation and pray that even as we have sung, you may
fulfill our story - the story of your love.  Though the world has been
gripped by trouble since early days - and life has often been short and
tormented - you have given us a vision of a day beyond the terrors: a day
when the heavens and earth will be new again, a day when the sound of
weeping will give way to delight, a time when all creation will live in
peace and people will long enjoy the fruits of their labours.  Help us dear
God  to hold to that vision when the temples about us are falling, and our
world is shaken.  Strengthen us  for the telling of your truth and for
keeping to your path - that we might not weary in doing what is right, but
through endurance may gain our souls, even as you desire for us to do.  
LHOP

As we pray for a new heaven and a new earth this day - we especially are
aware of those among us and those beyond these holy doors who are in deep
need of your peace, of your healing touch, of your just and bounteous
kingdom.

We pray those who dwell in places of strife, need, and want:... LHOP

We pray  - for those who have been bereaved in the past week.... LHOP

We pray for those who are unemployed and those fear layoff or termination
and all those struggling with a burden in the workplace and the marketplace
- LHOP                                      

We pray too for those others named before you especially this day by our
brothers and sisters  in faith.  We remember:

And finally we pray for today for those of our brothers and sisters who face
persecution because of their faith.  For those who are deprived of their basic
human rights - and those who are deprived of their lives because of their desire
to worship and serve you... LHOP

Let us give thanks to the one to whom we pray, the one who brings both the
snow and the sun; the one  who heals this troubled world; the sick; and
those who turn to Him in faith; the one who grants new life not only to us,
but to the creation itself.... LHOP

....Gracious God we pray to you in the name of the one who came to show us
the way, he who is our Lord and our Redeemer, our brother and our friend.
We pray to you as one family, even as he taught us, saying... OUR FATHER...


* PRAYER OF DEDICATION
Time, talent, and treasure you grant to us, O God, in your faithful people. 
Accept us, and use us, and these our tithes and offerings, for your glory
and the good of all who call upon your name; we ask it trough Jesus Christ
our Lord.  Amen.


* BENEDICTION
Go in peace,
and may the Lord Himself, who is our source of Peace,
grant unto you faith, hope and love,
at all times and in all places,
may you abide in him as he abides in you,
both now and always.
  

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2004
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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