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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, November 30, 2012

Getting Out Alive

"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. "Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly,  like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."   Luke 21: 25-36
When I catch myself dithering over a decision, I’m reminded of the old adage: If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. This Sunday we start down the road of another Church year. And rather than wandering off in all directions, we are given very stark notice of exactly where the road leads.
Before us lies the Nativity, the miracles and parables, the Sermon on the Mount, the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus. But before any of that, we are given this preview of the end-game. If the theme feels familiar, it is Luke’s version of much the same apocalyptic ground we covered recently in Mark’s gospel. The message is clearly important enough for the Church to place these scriptural signposts at the start and finish of the liturgical year. Life and death for you and me and everyone who ever was and ever will be is surely worth this second look.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who lived constantly under the threat of martyrdom, offers us this perspective: “It may be that the day of judgment will dawn tomorrow; in that case, we shall gladly stop working for a better future. But not before.” And so, in the class room, in the pulpit and finally from a prison cell, he built God’s kingdom; until his work was interrupted by the hangman, eleven days before his prison was liberated. From his writings we have the portrait of a man who loved this life, cherished his family, and had so much more to give. And yet he put it all on the line and walked right back into harm’s way… because it was the right way. When he speaks of life and death and judgment, those are not academic musings. The author of The Cost of Discipleship knew intimately the price of facing up to evil. He did not run gladly to martyrdom. But he did not run from it.
In the final days of World War II, his fellow inmates were all fiercely obsessed with survival, with getting out alive. Bonhoeffer knew that come what may, he was getting out alive. He lived in Christ. And his executioners could never take that life away from him. And so it goes with all who have died to sin and live in Christ. We don’t go skipping blithely to earthly mortality. But we know our Redeemer lives. He has conquered death and guarantees eternal life to those who love and serve the Lord. When our time here is interrupted, whether in a raging apocalypse, or in the quiet of a hospital room, by living in the love of Christ, we too will know with certainty that we’re getting out alive. 


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