Posts Tagged end times

Mark 13.1-8 Nation Building RSUMC 20141109

Wailing Wall

As [Jesus] came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For 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 birth pangs. [NRSV]

Building Blocks of the Temple

One of the most well known attractions in Jerusalem is the Western wall of the temple known as the Wailing Wall. It is not first named this for the prayers shared by the millions of visitors, rather because of a rare and miraculous occurrence of water weeping from the rocks. The last time this happen was over seventy years ago.

Over 60 feet is visible and above ground, but the larger portion of the wall is under ground and accessible by tunnels. The largest stone found in the wall is between 500-600 tons based on different measurements and estimations. It is considered the fourth largest carved stone in the world. If you cut it into pieces it could take almost 156 RAM Max Chassis Cab trucks at maximum capacity to carry the mass to the work place.

The super cranes of today lift 2000-3000 tons. But keep in mind 13 of the top super cranes around the world have been designed in the last six years. And even at their current designs require a minimum 400 foot boom and are situated 200 feet away from the object.  Large amounts of animal fat (pigs particularly) burns hot and fast and could be tunneled under the foundation and cause the swift destruction from the massive weight collapsing on itself.

The disciples are as amazed of the scope and size of the temple as every visitor to the temple mount is today. As long lasting as buildings appear to be, in one monsoon season, the pyramids would crumble. As a United Methodist Clergy person I have always struggled with forms that ask for my permanent address. I have since given up wondering and now know it is Ringgold, Georgia. Nothing is as solid and eternal I we act like things are.

Jesus gives a basic geology and architecture lesson: look around, all of this will crumble in time, even God’s physical temple. This is why we have a board of Trustee’s to make improvements and repairs to keep this a viable place to worship, fellowship, learn and share Jesus Christ. But as powerful and meaningful as this place it, this is not who we are.

Building Blocks of the Kingdom

Many will come to tear down your spirit.

Many will come to water down your passion.

Many things, people and circumstances will lead folks away from find this house as God’s house.

If you are going to choose what to build up, maintain and nurture: build the kingdom, no matter the temple.

One of the most powerful reports of mission teams that travel to foreign countries or rural parts of our own country is the powerful presence of the Spirit where there appears to be so little, where to physical needs are so great. It seems the Spiritual presence is seen more clearly and with more power and reality.

 

Destruction of the Temple

Think of the things that tear down our places of worship. There are those in churches around the world that have their building torn down because it is simply present in the community of our enemies.

Jesus was clear that war would come in the life time of the church. Just as the Romans came and destroyed the temple in 70 AD, during the lift time of early disciples. Wars surround and threaten us now. Is this the end? Are these the battles of the end of days? The easy thing to say is, “Yes.” I say yes, because it is a clear and present danger that motivates us to action. As compelling case that we might make that this is it, I suppose that folks said the same in on these grounds in the Battle of Chickamauga, World Wars, on the ground in Vietnam, and for forty years or more in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc. There may be 100 years more of wars.

We look back and give thanks for those who have served us through times of war and in the face of war so that we can build back what is hopefully a better world and a better life.

Jesus does not belittle the reality of war, rather saying wars are not the most important sign, instead they are signs that what we treasure will most certainly be threatened and some will crumble. BUT don’t give up on building the relationship that will be eternal.

There will be lean times in the world, but not in the heart of God.

There will be earthquakes and times that very foundations of the earth will shift, crack and fall, but God will never fail.

If our church building were attacked at the hands of terrorist, we sit quietly by and keep the situation to ourselves. (a sarcastic, and foolish thought) We would be up in arms and have every person doing something about it.  We can keep the threat at bay, when it’s over the pond.

Eatonton UMC had the treasured story that their sanctuary was spared because it was used as hospital and barn for Union troops. But a hundred years later one arsonist set fire to that building. But the church was not destroyed. IN FACT, it was the transforming act that forced the congregation out of a rut of safety and protection into growth and a renewal of the mission to make disciples.

Endurance of the Kingdom

Jesus’ promise is the kingdom will endure.

If this is the end time, who has your heart and your back?

If this is only the beginning of years to come, who has your heart and your back?

Don’t worry about the end, Focus on the presence of God right now, right here.

Turn to your neighbor and remind them. This is God’s house, not my house, not your house. This is Jesus’ house. The Spirit is in this house.

Turn to another neighbor and remind them. God has your back just like mine. Jesus has my heart, does he have yours?

Turn to someone in front or behind you and remind them. What is leading you astray? What is crumbing in your spirit? For what do you weep and wail?

This is the conversation Jesus is having with disciples, just like us, just as then, Jesus is now..

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Luke 21:5-19 “The Moon Has Collided with the Earth?” 20131117 JUMC

Earth-and-Moon
21:5 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are 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. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.

This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.

You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls. [NRSV]

For some reason I remember one of the lines of actor, Ed Asner, who as an over-worked newspaper editor goes home to get much needed rest tells his staff, “Don’t call me unless the moon collides with the earth.” Well the big story breaks during the night and they call to let him know. He answers the phone after fumbling for the receiver, he says, “Oh my God, the moon has collided with the earth!”

While the news story was big it was nothing compared to the typhon of recorded history in the Philippines. We remembered and prayed for the people last Sunday, just as we did for those in the typhon of Japan 2011, and hurricane Katrina, Andrew or Camile. But the magnitude, not of loss of property nor number of deaths, but the power of the storm ranks this latest as the worst in history.

Not having been on board with Noah, nor sitting around when the Asia and Europe plates collided, this terrible storm has the makings of an apocalyptic storm in the minds of some and surely those in the Philippines have been asking, “is this the end?”

While it has been terrible and tragic, I don’t think it is anymore the end that the storm before or the next one that follows. Storms might be signs but they are not the end of days.

Jesus points to signs of wars, global conflicts, earthquakes and famine. All might be signs, but are not the BIG sign.

SO WHAT is ‘THE’ SIGN?

“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.

When the storms become spiritual and personal and political. Be ready when you are involved.

The UMCOR gives us a great way to know our money is going to meet human needs on the ground when disasters strike, They may not spend the money marketing that good news, but that is our job. The also count on us to tell the story and save the money for the real needs. When you hear of suffering know your church will be ready to serve and give generously to keep this mission alive and strong.

The task we have at home, every day, is to be ready for attacks on our faithfulness, our trust, our core values and beliefs. The end is near, Jesus reveals, when we are being arrested for our faithfulness. The end is near when the powers of authority come after us for standing up for God’s power and grace. The end is near when you are imprisoned for giving to the church, oppressed for telling God’s Good News.

The end is near when anyone gets in the way of your faithfulness. This is not to belittle the great and terrible day of the Lord, but think of the times that we back down before we are called to speak out.

Think of the times that we help back when we needed to be ready to stand up to individuals and governments that water-down our faith.

Think of how easy it is to do nothing, rather than lead the way. What would the crowd who watched Jesus be crucified say before God at their judgement. “Well, everyone else kept quiet.”

The real end of days are the days that we hold back, give-in and keep quiet. The storms of life with come and go. Wars and nations will take their toll on us all. But the one thing that remains:

What are you and I going to do, right here in ‘river city’, to make sure the last words of grace, love and power have not already been spoken.

The occasion of tragedy and persecution become opportunities for us to share, witness and proclaim. Don’t avoid them, be ready to make sure each day is not the last day to proclaim the Kingdom of God.

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Luke 12:54-56 “1000 Years, Mayan Calendar or Just Bad Weather and Wars?” 20121216 JUMC

Luke 12:49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” 54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain’; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? 57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

Matthew 16:1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesus they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’3 And in the morning, “It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away. 5 When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 Jesus said to them, “Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”7 They said to one another, “It is because we have brought no bread.” 8 And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? 9 Do you still not perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!” 12 Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. [NRSV]

Matthew 24 1 As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 Then he asked them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” 3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: 8 all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs. 9 “Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10 Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come. 15 “So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand), 16 then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; 17 the one on the housetop must not go down to take what is in the house; 18 the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. 19 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. 21 For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, “Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or “There he is!’—do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25 Take note, I have told you beforehand. 26 So, if they say to you, “Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, “Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. 29 “Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. 32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked slave says to himself, “My master is delayed,’ 49and he begins to beat his fellow slaves, and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. 51 He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [NRSV]

Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennialism

1000 years is figure of speech that draws on Old Testament imagery of a really long time. It is not a literal 1000 years. If it were literal then we would have to interpret that 1000 years through God’s understanding of time as a day is 1000 years then Christ’s return would have been in a day or 6000 years later as Bishop Hippolytus of Rome explained in the first century.

The theology of millennialism draws on eight verses from one chapter of one book is not a balanced nor full use of scripture.

Look at Jesus own words in Luke and Matthew:

Signs are good, important and essential to watch for in our understanding of God’s work in the world.

Luke 12.54 “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain’; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Signs can have multiple meanings. It is through time that we signs bear out the truth but the evidence that follows. You see storm clouds and then it rains.. the dark clouds as a sign of the thunder and flood to follow.

What are the signs of the present time? We are in the midst of war. Nations are threatening to escalate to global war. The Muslim faith is rapidly out numbering the Christian faith around the world.

Earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, drought, disease, cancers, poverty, political hysteria, melting glaciers, desire to be served rather than to work, jealousy, prejudice, fears, and somebody stop me..

When you see these things ask yourself this: “Is this what heaven is like? Are these signs of God’s kingdom and reign? Is this what God wants for us?” I say, NO!

These are the signs of the present age. These are the signs of the world we living in. We are called to seek God’s kingdom where we see glimpses of God’s grace at work.

There was a pasty, proud preacher who claim to have prayed a hurricane past his church and university without compassion on the neighbors who experienced the full brunt of the storm. Not signs of God’s work.

Why is this 1000 year reign of Christ thing important to so many folks?

A: At times, we have a desire to know what God has said is not for us to know. We want to know what is in our Christmas presents before we open them… Every child snoops, shakes or peeks to find out what is in the wrapped package. Our quest to know about the end of time, God’s divine plans, and Chirst’s return

(In all honesty, trying to pinpoint at time and moment that Christ has said he did not even know boarders on blasphemy and is easily as waste of time)

But that does not stop us from trying to make sense out of senseless events in the world.

For example, we need only look to the tragedy in CT at the elementary school. Are the twisted and vengeful actions of a son against his mother and her class signs of God at work in the world? NO!!

It is a wake up for those who know God’s power and love to take on a hurting and twisted world. Who is going to tell people like this shooter about the love, power and grace of Jesus Christ. (We could say, he doesn’t live in Jackson so it’s not our responsibility, but somebody didn’t teach him another way to deal with his rage and anger.) If you and I don’t reach out to a hurting world, who will?

We have gathered together for worship on the last Sunday before the end of the Mayan Calendar ending on the 21st. What are we doing to prepare for the coming of the end?

It is rather easy to dismiss the warning of a pre-determined time, based on Matthew 24:36, “About the time and hour, no one knows..”

And yet we have to look to Jesus’ warning to pay attention to the signs, if we see wars, famine, lying leaders and natural disasters do we say, “business as usual” mind the gap and continue on as you were?

What is the wise magi in the East had not been looking in the heavens and studying the charts and signs in the heaven? Would they have known other wise to go to Bethlehem with great treasures to celebrate the birth of our spiritual king?

If they had not paid attention to signs in the night sky, we might never have the tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas. Oh my, what a shame.

If the shepherd had not listened to the super-natural experience of heavenly voices they may not have gone to see the baby lying in the manger.

The Christmas story is filled with signs. If we ignore the signs we learn nothing. If the doctor says watch your blood pressure, it is a sign of what is going on in our heart and vascular system. If we are watching the check engine light burn day after day and never have it checked out, then we wonder why our car stopped on the side of the road with out warning.

Watch for the signs, see what they prove in them selves. If it floods where you live, MOVE!

If your life seems short, make the most of it. If you days are long and all ahead of you, plan for a long future of LIVING.

As for the 1000 years.. don’t worry if Christ is coming on the 21st of this month or not until the 22nd century… worry about Christ coming into your heart right this minute.

Be focused on telling, teaching and planting the love, power and grace of Jesus Christ in the lives and hearts of those around you.  You see the signs: so make a difference through Christ, today.

Christmas is God’s promise to be present with us… now and 1000 years and for eternity. Don’t get hung-up in ‘the’ day, live this one as if it were.

If Christ were coming this week and a 1000 years would follow of peace would you want to make certain you were right with God and if doing that mean you were in right relationship with your family, community and world… would you ignore signs? I hope not.

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