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November 19, 2000
Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost

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LECTIONARY READINGS
from the Revised Common Lectionary

Daniel 12:1-3 and
Psalm 16
Hebrews 10:11-14, (15-18), 19-25
Mark 13:1-8

[ Read the texts at the Vanderbilt Divinity On-Line Library ]
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"When?"

A number of years ago a vacation trip took us to Washington D.C.  After visiting several monuments, we were sitting on the grass looking up at the nation's capitol. My oldest son was struck by the grandeur of it all and asked, "Will this always be here?"

I thought of the words in the hymn, Our God Our Help in Ages Past, "Time like an ever flowing stream, bears all her sons away..."   "Only God will always be here," I answered, "But I think this capitol will be here for a long, long time."

It is difficult to imagine, but somewhere, someday, the pages of history will turn and in all likelihood the capitol will go the way of all earthly powers. Kingdoms will rise and fall, but only the kingdom of God is forever.

It is difficult to imagine what circumstances would lead to a failure of our national identity.  What new power might rule?  Will it all end with a bang -- or a whimper?  A two hundred year history for our nation is impressive in the modern world, but in the course of history, it is a blink of the eye.  What catastrophe would bring this nation to an end?

***

If all this talk of national failure is unsettling -- Jesus' words to his disciples were near catastrophic.

As they were leaving the temple compound,  one of the disciples marveled at the magnificence of the Second Temple -- the temple Herod the Great had rebuilt.  It was of such magnitude that it took up one sixth of the city of Jerusalem.  The temple courtyard was the size of about six football fields put together. Huge stones were used to provide a foundation for the platform of this area where the land dropped off sharply.  The southeast corner of the temple platform rose two hundred feet above the floor of the Kidron valley.

"What massive stones!  What amazingly huge buildings!" the disciple exclaims.

Jesus' answer is tantamount to blasphemy. His words strike at the heart of Jewish national identity and the religion of his ancestors.  This was the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob -- the center of everything Jewish.  And the upstart young teacher from Nazareth has the audacity to say:

"Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down."

The words are almost unspeakable and we can measure the stunned reaction of the disciples by the fact that they did not say anything until they had the temple area in Jerusalem, gone down into the Kidron valley to the east and sat on the Mt. of Olives, (a large ridge actually) where the eastern side of Jerusalem and the temple complex could be seen. 

Peter, James, John and Andrew come to Jesus privately to ask what this is all about.

When?

"When will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?"

[Talk about "beware" and the cult thing]


Discussion and Reflection on the Texts

Connections in the Texts

Daniel 12:1-3 and

 

Mark 13:1-8

With today's gospel reading, we leave the gospel of Mark and soon begin another year of readings in the lectionary cycle where the gospel focus is on Luke.  Although this is not the 

Hebrews 10:11-14, (15-18), 19-25

 


 Worship Helps

A Call To Worship

L: We rejoice and give thanks to the Lord,
P: Our hearts are filled with gladness,
L: And our mouths with songs of praise,
P: For the Lord has done great things for us.
L: We are blessed with every gracious gift of God.
P: Therefore we will praise the Lord forevermore!  Amen!

 

A Prayer of Confession

Almighty God, we cannot draw near to You without feeling ashamed.  The world has been to much with us.  Late and soon, getting and spending, we have laid waste our powers.  We have left ourselves with little time to think, to pray, to listen to what You have to say to us.  Help us now to open the door by which You enter our heartsIn the spirit of Christ we make our prayer.   Amen.      (Robert J. McCracken)

 

Assurance of Pardon

Hear the gracious words of our Lord Jesus Christ to all that truly repent and turn to Him: Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Those who come to me I will in no way cast out.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Lord God eternal, holy, almighty, merciful; maker of all things by Your power, ruler of all things in Your wisdom; we glorify You for the wonders of the heavens and the earth; for the perfection of Your counsels; for the riches of Your saving grace toward the children of humankind; for Your saving grace and truth revealed to the world in Jesus Christ; and for Your presence vouchsafed to us through Your Holy Spirit.  All praise and adoration be given to You, by day and night, with voice and heart, from generation to generation, O Almighty Lord God most blessed and most glorious, for ever and ever.     Amen.

 

A Prayer of Dedication

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who has not spared Your own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, and who, with Him, has freely given us all things: Receive these offerings which we bring and dedicate to You.  And enable us, with all our gifts, so to yield ourselves to You that with body, soul, and spirit we may truly and freely serve You, and in Your service find our deepest joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.