Pentecost 24 Proper 33 Yr C. 2 Thess. 3:6-13; Canticle 2; Luke 21:5-19
“Live daily in faithfulness, have no fear, because God is in charge; by your endurance you will save your life.”
A friend of mine, someone who tended to be overly concerned about the world and the state it is in, had become overwhelmed by what he had seen on TV and read in the news. Basically, he was depressed by it.
He was visiting his dad as it happened, so he told his dad how he felt about the mess the world was in – and that he was depressed by it.
His father said, “Son, the world is always in a mess. It may not be “the” mess, but it is always in “a” mess.
And you know, it’s true.
In answer to President Trump’s backing out of a treaty. Iraq is bulking up its nuclear program.
The US Budget deficit is the largest ever and it is not coming down.
China seems to be taking over the world.
Our health care system is in crisis – it takes forever to get treatment for some problems.
The provincial government has to bring its affairs into order to get rid of a large deficit.
How are the Liberals going to govern without a majority?
Your new SUV now costs eighty dollars to fill with gas.
Times are really bad aren’t they?
I remember my wife’s late mother deciding never to watch the news on television any more – she couldn’t take the stress
There is always a crisis. And not only out there.
There are personal crises, aren’t there?
Yours and mine.
There is always too much month left at the end of the money.
City taxes are going up again.
There is a rumour your company is laying off workers.
Your cholesterol is up, and your energy level is down.
You can’t sleep at night and you can’t wake up in the morning.
The disciples suddenly had personal crises, didn’t they? Jesus told them about coming wars and tumult, about signs in heaven, about famine and pestilence, that the world was going to be in a terrible mess.
“When will this be? What should we do?” they asked him.
“What is going to happen?”
But he told them, “Don’t worry, you will be saved by being faithful to me.”
The message here, is that whatever happens in your life or in the wider world, hanging onto God, hanging onto your faith, enduring in your faith, will bring you through.
“By your endurance you will gain your lives,” Jesus said.
Imagine what is like for a non-believer. Who are they going to turn to?
They are on their own.
The husband of one of my flock never came to church.
I teased him about it and he said, “My church is the golf course. I am there every Sunday morning”
So I said, ” Well, when you have a life crisis, call your golf coach. Don’t send for me.”
About today’s Gospel.
Parts of it refer to the coming destruction of the temple which took place some fifty or so years after Jesus crucifixion, and for the Jews who lived there at that time, it was the end of their world.
And parts of it refer to world upheavals which might signify the end times.
We have seen plenty of those – local upheavals, global upheavals and you can see how it gets to some people.
For some like my friend who despaired aloud about the state of the world, everything is reason to worry.
And when is the best time to worry?
At night of course!
At night, when you should be sleeping to charge up your batteries for the next day’s challenges.
For several years a woman had been having trouble getting to sleep at night because she worried about burglars. She would awaken at the slightest sound, a creaking floor, the wind blowing the shutters around – you know what I mean.
One night her husband heard a noise in the house, so he went downstairs to investigate. When he got there, he found an intruder.
“Good evening,” he said, to the surprised burglar, “I am pleased to see you. Come upstairs and meet my wife. She has been expecting you for the past ten years.” 1
I’ll tell you this: Worrying could be a sin.
When you worry, every little spot becomes a cancer.
When you worry, every little hassle in life becomes a major problem.
When you worry, you never see the positive side of anything.
And when you worry – it could be you have given up on your faith.
Remember the story of the disciples, in a boat with Jesus?
He was sleeping.
A storm suddenly came up and began to toss the little boat around.
The waves became great crashing torrents, the wind turned into a hurricane, they couldn’t control the boat, and these practiced fishermen began to WORRY!!!
It’s strange how that happens isn’t it?
I sailed for a bit, you know, and what they say is that sailing is 90 percent boredom and ten percent sheer terror.
You can be confident, out there on the water, skilled at what you do, relaxed, breezy, happy-go-lucky, moving along nicely in the wind, and then something happens and you feel all your confidence leaking out and fear leaking in!
The disciples, in their fear, woke Jesus and he calmed the storm, and he asked them where their faith was – the faith that would have told them there was nothing to fear.
He was with them wasn’t he?
They needn’t even have woken him.
But that’s life, isn’t it? Things come up to shatter our everyday equanimity.
We are doing fine at work when we hear that people are going to be laid off.
Action is out and paralysis is in.
We might be managing alright financially, paying the bills, with a bit to spare, and suddenly we are hit with a massive repair bill.
Confidence is out and helplessness is in.
Strength just drains away, like water.
We are helpless. And yet, you know, we are helpless only because we think we are on our own.
And we think we are on our own because our faith in God has momentarily vanished.
If we were really on our own and having to handle all life’s problems by ourselves, then we would have reason to worry, wouldn’t we?
But we aren’t. On our own. And lying awake at night is no way to handle things.
Mary C. Crowley, in her book, ‘Be Somebody,’ said, “Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He’s going to be up all night anyway.”
What that means is that whatever mess your life is in, as hopeless as it may look; no matter what a mess the world is in, even if it is indeed the end of the world you are not on your own.
You’ve got someone on your side, – rooting for you, caring for you, looking out for you, loving you. Loving you!.
That is promised. It is part of our covenant with God.
It is promised to babies at baptism and to us old folks at the other end.
We try to live our lives, loving God and loving others – living that out as our part of the covenant – our agreement with Him – and He lives out His part and takes care of us.
We are His people, and He is our God.
And when we know that, when we really know that, then whatever happens we also know we will endure.
When we really know that, then nothing can frighten us.
We will endure.
And His love for us will endure.
Life may be uncertain, but the certainty of His love is a given.
Don’t take my word for it. Check it out yourself.
John 13:1: Fret not – He loves you.
Psalm 139.10: Faint not – He holds you.
Psalm 121:5; Fear not – He keeps you.
He loves you, He holds you, He keeps you.
“Live daily in faithfullness, have no fear, because God is in
charge; by your endurance you will save your life.” Amen.
1 William Marshall, Eternity Shut in a Span.