Persistent Hope

Scripture: Isaiah 65:17-25

Persistent Hope

This passage from the oracle of Isaiah has become so familiar to some of us that we fail to realize its significance. Here, God through Isaiah pulls back the curtain of time and enables us to peek into eternity. What we see looks strange and phantasmagorical to us—a bizarre, dream like glimpse into a reality where things just don’t work the way we expect. And yet it also depicts the direction—if not the destination—of God’s redemptive work in us and throughout all of creation.

My friend Mindi sums it up like this: 

Isaiah 65:17-25 contains the prophet’s vision of a new heaven and a new earth, where the ways of this world no longer have a hold on us. The prophet envisions a time when everyone enjoys what they have worked for, where the struggle of this world disappears and untimely death is no more. This vision is of peace and prosperity, of hope for all, where there is no domination, despair, and exile.

This vision is often too much for us to hope for, and yet it remains the persistent hope and activity of our transforming God. 

Part the First

Unlike Isaiah’s vision [Isaiah 65:17], we are all too aware of “the former things”—those systems and processes that have influenced and frequently impeded progress. In churches as in life, we are often stymied by claims that “we’ve never done it that way before” or “we tried that once and it didn’t work” or “Such-and-such did it that way.” In life as in churches, we often carry our past wounds into the present and the future, often stunted by the pain of grudges and the impossibility of reconciliation and forgiveness in past relationships.

“For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.”
(Isaiah 65:17 NRSV)

Part the Second

Similarly [Isaiah 65:18], the idea of newness and change generally creates not gladness or joy, but fear and trepidation. We face a future—and even a present!—that feels uncertain to us. The world doesn’t work the way it used to. The old rules of life no longer produce predictable results. And so most of us struggle to sort out how to live a good life or embody our faith in this new reality. 

Yet God speaks through Isaiah:

“But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.” (Isaiah 65:18 NRSV)

Part the Third

Our world is filled with grief and sorrow [Isaiah 65:19b]; with lives tragically cut short [Isaiah 65:20a]; with people working their whole lives only to have nothing to show for it, or working hour after unending hour at a series of jobs and still not earning enough for their family to eat and survive [Isaiah 65:22a]. We are afraid for the world our children are inheriting [Isaiah 65:23a].

And to all these things, God says “no more!”

“No more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.” (Isaiah 65:19b NRSV)

“No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime.” (Isaiah 65:20a NRSV)

“They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat.” (Isaiah 65:22a NRSV)

“They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity.”
(Isaiah 65:23a NRSV)

The Reversal of Fortunes

The gladness and joy of this vision comes about because in it we catch a glimpse of God’s future when these injustices and fears and pains will be eradicated from the human experience.

Where there are now those who die before living a full life, Isaiah imagines a day when someone even 100 years old is considered an adolescent. [Isaiah 65:20]

Where now far too many do not receive fair compensation for the labors they perform, Isaiah imagines a day when everyone gets what they have worked for. [Isaiah 65:21, 22b]

Where now we fear for the world of our children’s future, Isaiah imagines a day of blessing and wholeness and security that will permeate not just their experience, but the experience of generations to come. [Isaiah 65:23]

Hard Work

What Isaiah anticipates 2500 years ago continues to be the impossible dream of today. 

But what stands out to me is not the content—it is not a matter of what Isaiah describes God doing. What stands out to me is that nowhere in the scriptures is it suggested that these transformations of ourselves and of the created order will be easy. 

If anything, we should expect they be hard. In last week’s reading from Haggai, this transformation was described in earthquake-like terms:

“For thus says the LORD of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all the nations” (Haggai 2:6–7a NRSV)

The book of Revelation—in peeking behind the curtain some years later—envisions the Lord God of Hosts (or more literally, “Yahweh, commander of armies”) waging war on the forces of darkness as God brings about the imagined world Isaiah suggests. Jesus—our front-line general in this conflict—is depicted as a military leader through whom God will achieve victory. In chapter 19 of Revelation we read:

“Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God.

And the armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”” (Revelation 19:11–16 NRSV)

Nowhere in the bible is it suggested that these changes will come about with a snap of God’s fingers. Everywhere we look, we see difficult language describing how God will make these things so—throughout history, and through those among us who partner with God.

It will not be a simple matter for all of creation to be transformed according to God’s desires. ……Just as it is not easy for our individual hearts to be transformed into Christ-likeness. 

Where Are We?

Which brings us to another point…… Isaiah describes what God is doing. But where are we in all this? If we imagine that cosmic battle illustrated in Revelation, whose side are we on? What are we doing to advance the cause of Christ? 

If we want to be on God’s side, then we will be working towards the fulfillment of God’s priorities. We will be working to achieve God’s vision of peace and wholeness.

This is not, of course, something we can do on our own. Author Dallas Willard has written that “The greatest temptation to evil that humanity ever suffers is the temptation to make a ‘Jerusalem’ happen by human means” (The Divine Conspiracy, p.380). What he means is that we try to use our own power and ability to bring about the reign of Christ in the world. But doing this—whether through our attempts to legislate morality, to establish a “Christian nation,” or whatever—it always winds up “eliminating truth, or mercy, or both.” 

This is not God’s way. These are not God’s weapons. 

God’s way and weapon is love. It is relationship. It is invitation. 

It is impossible to advance the cause of Christ while utilizing the powers of this world. Only the power of the Kingdom of God as known and expressed through Jesus will bring about the vision of Isaiah, and John, and even of you and I today. 

This hope of transformation has persisted throughout the centuries and millennia because God has written it on our hearts. Because it is an intrinsic part of God’s redemptive plan—not just in this life, but for all of eternity. Because ultimately, this life here and now is a training ground for our eternal work and existence with God. No matter our biological age, we are now children and adolescents whom our Divine Parent wishes to train, and in whom our Divine Parent wants to instill certain priorities and values and lessons. This is boot camp, preparing for the day when we can be set loose in God’s universe and empowered to “reign with him,” as the scriptures imagine.

This future reality is what gives meaning and purpose to it all. 

And for those of us who place our trust in the One True God, we realize that there is nothing that will prevent God’s purposes from being fulfilled. There is no way that the enemy can derail this vision of life as God intends it to be lived. There are no obstacles that keep us from the love of Christ, and the fullness of Kingdom life that begins now with our “rebirth”, and continues, unabated by death, into the eternal future with our loving God.

There is a reason for this persistent hope. And that reason is God. The very God who loves you, who has committed an eternity of resources to develop you into who you are created to be, and who will never—NEVER!—give up. As Eugene Peterson was said to sum up the gospel message:

God loves you.
God is on your side.
God is coming after you.
And God is relentless.

Anticipation

Matthew 24:36-44

Birth

Six years ago, I was on pins and needles. My spouse was in the final stages of building the human life that would be our second child, and I was engaged in the perennial-yet-challenging, husbandly task of not getting murdered by my spouse before the baby was born.

I kid of course [shake head “no”] but we were EXPECTING.

This was going to be our second child. Yet experience did little to abate anxiety, in our experience. As we moved into the season of awaiting the coming of the Christ Child—as well as the return of Jesus—we settled into ourselves as we awaited the birth of our own.

But “settling into ourselves” doesn’t mean we holed up and waited. Those of you with children know that anticipation drives you to action. There’s cleaning, prepping, shopping, thank-you card writing, painting, furniture assembly, schedule-coordinating, babysitter arranging, hospital bag packing, and more conversation and planning that you could ever imagine. When you adopt a posture of anticipation, you naturally position yourself offensively in order to attend to all the myriad of tasks that come your way.

This Advent season, we will be reflecting on posture, exploring the ways that we position ourselves on account of what we are thinking and feeling. In other words, how do we think, or feel, or change when we experience things like anticipation, challenge, questioning, fulfillment, and promise? How do we hold our bodies? How do we move? Do our senses sharpen? What happens in our relationships? How does experiencing these things change the way we engage the world?

Angela

I have a friend from seminary named Angela. And Angela always encouraged us to offer our whole selves in worship to God, claiming there is much more to offer than our intellectual attention and our voices. I believe she is right—and to many she proved this by studying all the words used to describe acts of worship in the OT. As it turned out, every single one of them had to do with moving your body: raising hands, kneeling down, lifting your face to the sky, lying prostrate on the ground, and so on.

Our Advent texts have me thinking about Angela. When we are expecting—when the birth of a child is immanent—when we posture ourselves in response to anticipation—we change our bodies. We change our attitudes. We change our engagements with one another. We physically respond to the increased anxiety, joy, fear, stress, hope, and all the other mixed-up feelings that go along with anticipation.

Matthew 24

This morning’s text—Matthew 24:36-44—is one that should evoke anticipation in us. Jesus, speaking here to his disciples, anticipates the Day of the Lord, which his fellow Jews believed would be the day the Messiah would appear and reign on earth forever. It may be worth noting that Matthew 24:3 tells us that Jesus is sharing these words “privately.” Most of the time, Jesus speaks out loud and in public, relying on the symbolism of parables to make his point in a covert manner. That Jesus speaks “privately” here may explain why these verses sound more radical and intense than the Jesus who urges the crowd to “consider the lilies of the field” in order to see how much God loves them.

There are four pieces—four elements of Jesus’ teaching that are intended to collectively draw us to the edge of our seat in eager, fearful, excited, and momentous anticipation about what God will soon be doing. For God (Jesus reveals) is going to break into the world in a more real, tangible, complete, and permanent way than even the very real, tangible, and complete incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Unexpected

The Day of the Lord of which Jesus speaks will first and foremost be unexpected in terms of timing. Here, he says that “no one knows the hour or the day, not even the messengers in heaven, not even the Son. Only the Father knows” (Matthew 24:36 VOICE). The unexpected timing of the Day of the Lord always seems to be the first thing Jesus refers to, whether in teachings (like this one) or parables (like that of the ten bridesmaids in Matt 25).

I think Jesus keeps insisting about the unexpected timing of the Day of the Lord because that is the part we humans have the most trouble with. When we know something is going to happen but we don’t know when, our anxiety goes through the roof.

Imagine the last time you had service personnel out to work on your internet or cable or whatever. You know how it is: you call and they assure you a service person will be at your home sometime between 8:30 Tuesday morning and next March. As you piddle around the house catching up on chores, complaining about it on Facebook, and looking out the window every 10 minutes, your whole being changes on account of anticipation—your attitude, your actions, your interactions, your perspective—everything!

Think about someone you know who was about to be a first-time parent. Those last weeks, they know the baby is coming; they just don’t know when. So every single bump or shift or change sends at least one partner into a blind panic. Anticipation winds us up—tightens and heightens our reflexes—so when that awaited event occurs, we are ready to spring into action without a moment to waste.

We have such a hard time waiting—especially when we know something is about to happen. I think that’s why we humans have been so fixated on trying to prove Jesus wrong here. Though Jesus says that even he does not know the timing of the Day of the Lord, folks have been naming dates since at least before 500 AD. We come up with theories based on the dimensions of the Ark (Hippolytus of Rome, Sextus Julius Africanus, Irenaeus), horrible misreadings of Revelation (Pope Sylvester II, Sandro Botticelli, Tim LaHaye), random mathematical coincidences and calculations (Michael Stifel and others), visions and dreams of cult leaders and would-be prophets, and astrological phenomena.

Over and over we try to connect dots that lead to nothing, to ascertain something we cannot know, because—just like the first humans in Eden—we are not content to let God and God alone be God.

Sudden

Second, Jesus emphasizes that the Day of the Lord will come suddenly. What’s the difference between unexpected and sudden? It’s a matter of awareness.

When a spouse goes into labor, it’s unexpected in that the timing is uncertain but the approaching reality is certain and prepared for (one hopes).

In contrast, with suddenness both timing and the approaching reality are unanticipated in any way. Sudden is a car accident. Sudden is being blindsided.

The suddenness of the coming Day of the Lord is made clear by allusion to the story of Noah and the flood from Genesis 6-9. Now I’ve heard sermons from these verses that claim Jesus is talking about how evil the world will be when the Day of the Lord takes place, but that’s not it at all. Look at verses 37-39 (of Matt 24 NIV) again:

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

These people are about the normal business of life—eating and drinking, marrying and giving their children in marriage, and so on—when they are blindsided by the flood: “They knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” Jesus gives us no clues whatsoever about their character, morality, or faith; but he is quite clear that they were unaware of the dramatic events about to transpire.

So, Jesus says, it will be on the Day of the Lord, “at the coming of the Son of Man.”

Unequal

Moving to the third element of this teaching of Jesus, we see that the coming Day of the Lord will not be experienced by everyone in the same way. The unexpected timing combined with its suddenness means that its impact will be uneven—unequal perhaps—as it affects the entire human race. Jesus says in vv.40-41:

Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

Now one of these days I’ll preach a whole sermon on these verses, because they are among the most misunderstood verses of the Bible. If you’re the type that likes doing homework, write this down in your bulletin to look up later: Luke 17:34-37.

Those verses tell Luke’s version of the exact same teaching, describing two people doing the same thing but one being “taken.” Tim LaHaye and others want you to fear being “left behind,” but Jesus makes it pretty clear we want to be the ones “left behind.” In Luke 17:37, Jesus’ own disciples don’t understand where the “taken” folk are going, so they ask Jesus. His response?: “where vultures circle over rotting corpses.” Those taken are taken by death. You don’t want to be taken; you want to be left behind.

The point of these illustrations by Jesus is to show that just because the timing of the Day of the Lord is uncertain, we are not without the ability to do something about it. What’s the difference between the one taken and the one left behind? The one left behind was paying attention. The one left behind adopted a posture of anticipation.

What to do?

If there was ever any doubt about the difference being a matter of attention, Jesus moves to that fourth element of this teaching section, commanding his disciples to “keep watch” (v.42). And what does “keeping watch” look like?

Well, imagine your house is going to be burgled. If you knew it was going to happen, you’d have adopted a posture of anticipation: you’d have locked all your doors and windows, stayed up late, peeked around the curtains, had your phone pre-dialed to 911, and you would have been ready to respond—immanently!—to the slightest suspicion. You, my friend, will be left behind—you will remain.

But without adopting that posture of anticipation, what happens? You get taken. You become a victim……a statistic……a story used to warn future generations about the dangers of leaving windows unlocked and of being caught unawares.

Conclusion

Sisters and brothers, Jesus will come again. As we move in this season toward our remembrance of his first coming, we walk a traditional path of anticipating his second coming. We anticipate the Day of the Lord, when our Jesus returns to reign as king of the new earth, as foreshadowed in Isaiah, Revelation, and so many other places. The day is coming when we, as subjects greeting our returning king, will “meet the Lord in the air” and usher him to earth as its rightful ruler, as Paul himself anticipates in 1Thessalonians 4:17: “And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

What I think God wants us all to think about this week is how our thinking and our feeling and our whole being might change if we entered fully into anticipation of the Day of the Lord.

What might happen if we believed as fully in the reality of the coming Day of the Lord as we did in the immanent birth of our child? Or even just as much as we believe that the AT&T repairman will eventually work his way to us?

What might change among our priorities and commitments if we took an honest look at ourselves and our world and believed—truly believed—that Christ’s return could and would blindside us when we least expected it?

I hear a lot of people talking about’s wrong with the world…… About what’s wrong with churches…… About what’s wrong with religion…… But you know what I want to see?

I want to see Christians take this following Jesus thing seriously.

I want to see folks step up to the self-denying, no place to lay your head, sell all you have and give to the poor, take up your cross and follow me kind of life to which we are all called.

I want us to take Jesus seriously enough that we recognize an urgency about his mission of liberation and life.

I want the world to know the resurrection power of God’s love.

As proclaimed in Philippians 3:10-11: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (NIV11). I want to see that power in your life.

We begin Advent by looking both backward and forward, appropriate as we live in the now-but-not-yet Kingdom of God. As disciples of Christ, let us consider: what would it look like for us to live in very real anticipation of his return?

Stay awake, lest you be taken, caught unaware, blindsided. Pay attention and prepare yourselves, for you know “the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ is coming again.

Amen.

Here It Comes

1Thess 5:1-11

Winter

Winter is coming.

That reality is pretty hard to ignore after the arctic blast of this past week. Monday I was enjoying my day off by hiking with the family—we were in short sleeves and enjoying pleasant fall weather. That night, however, the wind picked up as a front moved in. You know: you experienced it too. Over an hour or so, the mercury plummeted nearly 20 degrees.

When I arrived at church this morning it was only 14 degrees, with   a “feels like” temperature of -1.

Winter is coming. We feel it in our bones. So even without thinking, we gather and split firewood. We make sure the deep freeze is full. We “winterize” our houses and our cars and our wardrobes.

Winter is coming. There is no denying it. No one can say they are in the dark anymore. No one can say they are surprised. What began in the turning of the grass and the rustle of wind-through-leaves has grown, escalated, and intensified into the cold wind of winter that seems to sap even the heat of the sun.

Winter is coming. No human, animal, insect, or even plant in Atchison is asleep to that fact. We have woken up. We are aware. Winter is coming.

Thessalonians

At the time our scripture reading picks up in 1Thessalonians, Paul has already been talking about the coming Day of the Lord for some time. In those previous verses of chapter 4, the apostle sketches out a teaching on the return of Christ in the future. He wants his hearers to know that those who have already died in faith will not be at a disadvantage on the Day of the Lord.

But in contrast to the future-oriented teaching of chapter 4, Paul’s focus in chapter 5 is decidedly on the present. These instructions are not concerned with what Christians should believe about the future, they are about how they should act in the present.

Their actions—to use the expression Paul employs repeatedly here—should be driven by their ongoing awakening to God’s Kingdom. You see, if we truly know Christ’s return is immanent, then we will feel it in our bones the same way we do as winter approaches. That knowledge will drive us—consciously and subconsciously—to action: to work even more diligently—even more urgently—in the cause of Christ.

  • What (I wonder) is our equivalent of gathering and splitting firewood?
  • What is our equivalent of winterizing our houses, cars, and wardrobes?
  • What is our equivalent of gathering the foodstuffs necessary to sustain us through the season?

While they may not line up perfectly with this analogy of winter awareness and preparation, Paul does issue three instructions to the Thessalonians here.

1. “Be sober”

The first instructions are found in v.6, where the apostle urges Christians to “keep awake and be sober”—instructions repeated and expanded upon in vv.7-8 as well.

Now this is a passage of mixed metaphors, but it is still clear that Paul is not urging all of us to be insomniacs and teetotalers. Here and other places we see this direction is a plea to Christians:

to wake up to the truth of God’s kingdom,

to not dull our senses to God’s action,

and to be attentive and ready to respond when God breaks into our lives in small or large ways.

This part of Thessalonians is heavily dependent upon Jesus’ own teaching, especially those teachings recorded in Matthew 24 (42-43), Mark 13 (33-37), and Luke 12 (37-38). Both Matthew and Mark record Jesus teaching that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, and all three Gospels record Jesus using a variety of analogies and parables to help his hearers understand this instruction to stay awake. These analogies include things like:

…trying to catch or ward off a thief at night,

…guarding over someone else’s home or possessions while they are away,

…eagerly waiting for the arrival of one who is delayed,

…and even anticipating a natural disaster.

All involve readiness. All involve gathering knowledge and resources. All involve the ability to immediately accept and adapt to the changing reality of what is coming.

At today’s stage of the history of God and the world, we cannot afford for our senses to be dulled—they must be heightened! We cannot afford to sleepily or wearily procrastinate our response to God’s invitation to mission—it must be immediate, or it may be too late.

You know how in the old movies, someone will get hysterical about something, and their counterpart will slap them in the face. The impact “wakes up” the previously hysterical person, and they can suddenly think clearly and do what needs done.

Of course, it doesn’t work that way in real life. But the twin instructions to “be sober!” and “wake up!” are intended to be that kind of slap in the face, something to break our hysterical focus on this world so we can think and act clearly for the cause of Christ. Jesus, Paul, and the others who use these idioms want to see Christians clear their heads, come out of the fog we are in, and see fully what God is doing around and through us.

2. Gear Up

If the first instruction involves coming to terms with the reality of what is happening around us, the second requires preparing for our involvement in it. Verse 8 of our reading says: “Put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet [put on] the hope of salvation.”

Paul’s language here is very reminiscent of what he writes in Ephesians 6, in that famous passage instructing believers to “take up the whole armor of God” (Eph 6:13). Much as with that text—the emphasis here is on defensive—rather than offensive—weaponry. What are these defensive guards?——They are faith, hope, and love.

Which should immediately bring to mind what Paul famously writes in 1Cor 11 (12-13), other words about life in this world and the coming Day of the Lord:

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

So how do we “gear up” and prepare for the in-breaking of God’s kingdom in this world?

Quite simply: we become disciplined practitioners of faith, hope, and love.

We study and reflect to remind ourselves of the hope of salvation, which is secure in Christ Jesus.

We grow our faith as we pray and increase in our trust of the God whose faithfulness endures forever.

And we intentionally choose to follow the path of love, as revealed to us by the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

3. Leave No One Behind

That leads us to the third instruction. After coming to terms with the reality of what is happening around us, and preparing for our involvement in it, Paul’s third instruction is to “Encourage one another and build up each other” (v.11).

You see, our responsibility is not to ourselves. It is to others. I wonder if what Paul is advocating here is something like a “No man left behind” policy. As Christians, our responsibility is to support and encourage one another—it is to see them through. I mean, listen to this rapid sampling of verses.

Mark 12:31, Jesus instructs: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

John 15:13, Jesus declares: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

Luke 17:33, Jesus teaches: “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”

Revelation 12:11, the Voice in John’s vision says: “And they have conquered [the Enemy] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”

I could read a lot more. But I don’t think I have to. You know the Christian life should be focused on others instead of yourself. I know it too. But we all have to struggle daily to purge that selfishness that seeks our own encouragement and growth over that of our neighbor.

I think I mentioned this a couple weeks ago—it’s been on my mind a lot. There’s an old Jewish proverb that says if you save one person, you save the entire world (Talmud Bavli, Art Scroll Series, Tractate Sanhedrin, folio 37a).

It’s a powerful concept. And it’s a notion that has some resonance with teachings in our New Testament as well. In it, I hear echoes of Jude 22-23:

And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear…

And then there’s Matthew 10:42:

And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

And of course Matthew 25:40:

Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

Jesus is coming again.

Let us wake up to the reality of God’s Kingdom—living in it now, even though it is not yet fully revealed.

Let us diligently practice faith, hope, and love—training and strengthening ourselves to be ready for God’s call.

Let us genuinely support each other—Let us “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” as we read in Galatians 6:2.

Let us do it today, so that on that day, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11).

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ is coming again.

Amen.