2. 1 SAMUEL.
3. MARK 13.
In the name of God FS & HS. Amen.
- The collect for today summarises, for me at least, the meaning of readings set for today which reveal the mystery which we will later confess and proclaim: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again”.And by this great and joyful proclamation we are filled with hope, because we know to where we are going.
- The old and beautiful Temple has been destroyed by the rulers of the then known world who also attempted to destroy the living Temple – the Lamb who was slain.
- We are the new and living Temples of the Holy Spirit; let us be mindful of this huge privilege and responsibility as we wait in the interim for his return.
2. 1 SAMUEL.
- The first book of Samuel records the transition in Israel from the period of Judges to the monarchy. The reading set for today records the intimate family events preceding the birth of Samuel, the last of the great Judges.
- The final judge who is to come is both prophet, priest and king as well, and the church awaits his arrival with joyful expectation but in his time, known only to God and is termed “That Day” or“The Day of the Lord.”
- The O/T informs in a number of paces of That Day or “Yom Yahweh” in Hebrew and Our Lord prophesies as to the signs preceding this day:- wars, earthquakes, famine which will be“the beginning of the birth pangs”.
- A most beautiful picture of a prophecy of that wonderful Pentecost, which I imagine what That Day, the“Parousia” will be likewhen He returns to judge. Thisis contained in the book of the prophet Joel of whom not much is known but that he lived in the 4th/5th century BC and at a time of a great Locustplaque and drought; Joel records:-“…afterwards I will pour out my Spirit on everyone: your sons and daughters will proclaim my message. Your old men have will dreams and your young men will have visions. At that time I will pour out my Spirit on even servants both men and women”. (Joel 2:28-29).
- It will be a both joyful and fearful day. Joyful for those who love and perhaps a day of regret for many.
3. MARK 13.
- The gospel portion for today informs of Our Lord speaking to his disciples after they had made the observation of just how wonderful the Temple building at Jerusalem was, a truly remarkable piece of architecture. To which Jesus replies with a quite shocking prophecy as to its future destruction. “Not a stone will be left in place, all will bethrown down”.It was a prophesy which was fulfilled some years later by the ruthless Roman overlord.
- Perhaps the most potent words of Our Lord for those of the day who opposed him and called for his demise were these:- “I will destroy this Temple that is made with hands , and in three days I will build another, not made with hands”. (Mark 14:58).
- Of course his followers may have known what he meant but his religious opponents interpreted his words as a political statement and used this later in their appeal to the Roman authority for treason.
- By what I have read, the Temple built by King Herod in the year 20 BC, and completed some fifty years later at the beginning of Jesus ministry, was, according to the historian Josephus, a truly magnificent structure, set well positioned on a hill, with massive finely worked stone foundations, white marble columns, cedar-wood roof, and inside with gold and polished cedar linings. Externally, there were white marble columns adorned with gold and which shone blazingly in the day-time. It was one of the wonders of the world at the time, and more importantly for the Jewish people it was the earthly dwelling place of God.
- As had happened long ago, in the year 587 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the then Temple, sacked and razed Jerusalem and took the healthiest and most able inhabitants into exile in Babylon. And now Jesus states that it is going to happen again and for the same reason – the disobedience of God’s chosen people.
- But this time, the old worship centred on that magnificent Temple had become corrupt. The new worship will be centred on the Messiah, the new Temple: the person, in whom people will encounter God.
- Perhaps we need the reminder that we the church have become temples of the Holy Spirit where others will encounter God!
- It is quite humbling if not sobering, and I often feel unworthy, especially of my high calling as a priest. But, I know that this feeling of inadequacy, though genuine, cannot be used as an excuse to hide away from the reality, or deflect from what I know to be truth and the only way forward. Otherwise Christ’s one perfect sacrifice has no validity.
- The Lesson from Hebrews reminds us of this and I thought at this juncture of my preparation for this homily that an apt title for it could be: “The old and the new Temple”.
- The writer of the letter to the Hebrews is endeavouring to win back the waning faith of a group of believers in Jesus the Messiah and the portion of the letter set for today points out the significance of the work wrought by Jesus the true and eternal high priest.
- The writer stresses that the sacrifice of Jesus was made once and is effective forever, whereas the animal sacrifices of the priests of the Temple must be made over and over again.
- Every day, as long as the Temple stood, a one year old unblemished male lamb was sacrificed as a burnt offering in detailed ritual.
- A theologian described this as a “priestly tread-millof sacrifice” in which process there was no end, and which left the people still conscious of their sin and alienated from God.
- In his life of service and in that death of love, there is evidenced the heart of God. In other words looking at Jesus, we can say “that this iswhat God is like”,and perhaps it is not so much the glorious power of God in his mighty resurrection, but in the simple love of God demonstrated on the cross in great suffering and humility, which must conquer in the end.
- Finally, in our Hebrews lesson of today, the writer urges his readers to:- “Hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting our meeting together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb.10:23-24).
- We don’t know when the Day of the Lord will be, but we are informed that it is a day approaching, when he will return and when things as we know will be ended as he will come as judge.
- The early church lived in this joyful expectation not in fear, and we will do well to live with such an attitude.
In the name of God FS & HS. Amen.
Missing sermons from this list may be available from the office.