Pentecost 23 C 2022 End of Age
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
One episode of MASH that I enjoy is the episode entitled “The Rooster Crowed at Midnight.” You may have seen it. In this episode, we find the staff at the 4077 cold, grumpy, and short of basic supplies needed for comfort and for performing surgery in the frosty Korean winter.
However, their frustration soon turns to joy when a supply truck shows up. But their glee is short lived when they discover that the supply truck is dropping off useless items like salt tablets, suntan lotion and flip flops.
As luck would have it, though, all is not lost. Located in an otherwise empty mailbag, they find a package for B.J. Hunnicutt that turns out to be the novel “The Rooster Crowed at Midnight” which, according to the jacket, was “another brain-teasing, spine-chilling whodunit novel from the prize-winning author Abigail Porterfield.”
Jubilant that they now have something to do, the novel is passed around the camp chapter by chapter (page by page even), so everyone has a chance to read it. And much of the plot now becomes centered upon the efforts of the MASH staff to identify the murderer and bring closure to the mystery.
Well, to make a long story short, to everyone’s disappointment, the last page of the novel was missing. And the staff was left wondering who the murderer was in the novel. Even after calling Abigail Porterfield herself, the 97-year-old author who resides in Sydney, Australia, the staff was left to speculate who committed the murder.
For you see, Abigail Portfield’s memory of her novel has faded, and she provided BJ and Hawkeye with incorrect information. The episode ends with the mystery unsolved and the staff of the 4077 pondering who the murderer was in the novel.
Now, I brought this up this morning to point out the fact that none of us likes things to be left unfinished. We like to know the ending. We like completion. We want to close the book on what we are doing and then move on.
So, it is not surprising that, when Jesus started talking about the way things will be “at the end of the age,” His disciples wanted to know “When Lord? How will we know? And what will be the sign that these things are about to take place?”
Curious, the disciples wanted to know the details concerning the end times. As Paul Harvey used to say, the disciples wanted to know “The rest of the story.”
Our text today begins by stating: “When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus 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.”’
And the disciples responded “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” Not wanting to be left in suspense, the disciples wanted further details concerning the events that will one day take place.
But Jesus did not give a clear answer. Instead, Jesus gave a warning and explained that things are going to get much worse.
And He speaks of natural disasters, wars, famine, and other signs that do not offer much encouragement.
He then explains that terrible things will happen in the world, and that horrible things will happen to those who follow Him.
He warns that His disciples will even be betrayed by family members; and that His followers will be persecuted, hated, and some will even be put to death.
But notice, Jesus does not say that all this will take place immediately. Instead, Jesus leaves an open book as to the timeline of these events.
It is no wonder then, that when awful events occur in our world we wonder “Is this the end of the world.”
You know the events that I am talking about. The war in Ukraine, the threat of nuclear war, the worldwide pandemic, hurricanes, drought, rising crime in our big cities, declining attendance in church, and all the other dreadful events occurring in our world today that Jesus mentioned in our text.
You know, it would be so easy to get depressed when we read our text for today, if it were not for the words of encouragement Jesus offers to us.
Jesus informs us “Hold on, and do not give up.” And to bring home this point, He takes us through four steps.
- Do not be afraid. Do not be led astray. 3. Be my witnesses. 4. Persevere to the end.
Today Jesus tells us that the best antidote for fear is faith. Faith in Him who promises us that “Not a hair of your head will perish.” Faith in the One who will give us the words and wisdom needed to face our opponents. Faith in the One who walks with us, and talks with us, and tells us over, and over again that we are His own.
Yes, the old world continues to crumble around us even as we live out our lives today. And even though we do not know when Christ will come again, we trust that a new world is coming. May the light of Christ bring warmth, and light to our lives as the darkness of the current age succumbs to the One who is the light of the world – Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let us pray: Eternal God, your Kingdom has broken into our troubled world through the life, death, and resurrection of your Son. Help us to hear your Word and obey it, that we may become instruments of your saving love. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.