I remember the times that a Bishop has come to visit our churches, there is a lot of planning, a lot of nervousness, a fair amount of angst…and then the joy.
This morning we speak of something far above the visit of even a beloved Bishop, the time that Christ will return.
Unlike any other coming ever, Christ will come on a cloud, the sun will shine no more, the stars will fall from the sky. and will there be joy- well now we come to the question of the day, will there be joy when Christ comes again?
The time before Christ returns is a like a king going on a journey- leaving servants in charge and with work to do until he returns.
I am asking this church, I am asking you and me- to take this verse very seriously indeed. Christ will return, and we and even the angels do not know when, but when he returns he will gather some to himself and others will go to a place that Jesus describes as hell.
God decides issues of heaven and hell, that is beyond our pay grade. God left us with the task of sharing the good news of Jesus and being and making disciples.
“Why” I am a Christian is that I know God in Christ to be loving, merciful, grace-filled, enduring, caring, and just. I know I deserve hell but by God’s grace I can have eternal hope, to be in heaven for loving and accepting the gift of God’s grace in Jesus the Messiah.
Every Christian should accept as part of our “Why” for making disciples is that Jesus Commissioned us for that and left us in charge of it, left that as our marching orders. Acting first in all things by the Great Commandment to love God with our all and to love our neighbors as ourselves, and then moving to the Great Commission to go and make Disciples we have our marching orders to carry out in love.
Part of my personal “Why” for wanting to grow in discipleship and relationship with God is it brings me closer to my purpose from God.
Living into that God given purpose, working at it brings me a joy that nothing can take away, not even the death of a loved sister or brother.
You likely know already a lot of the reasons you follow Jesus the Christ. You likely can name the joy and purpose God has given you. When I lead a funeral, when I see year after year fewer and fewer people who can grasp the peace of Christ in the midst of death, I know another of my “Why’s” for wanting people to know Jesus. It is hell on earth to have no hope in God and heaven. It is hell on earth that you and I and all the churches are supposed to try and cure by inviting others into discipleship with Jesus but it takes really mature disciples to do that. So we will move to intentionally strengthening our own discipleship and then to going out to make disciples. We shall return to our roots before the Christ returns. We will begin with Why.
As for me; I do not want me, an earthly shepherd to be found asleep when the Lord returns.
I do not want the church I serve to be doing any less than our very best to help others to know and receive the love, and peace, and joy of Christ in this life and in the life to come.
God bless each of you, at the end of January we will invite the entire church to a working luncheon where we can prayerfully listen to God’s Holy Spirit in each of us speak forth more of the “Why” of Intentional Discipleship. Between now and then the Wednesday evening group invites you to come and share with us at 7:00 pm in the parsonage.
God be with you and me, God be the leader of all we do. The peace of Christ be yours, so much so that your cup overflows.
Sermon given on December 3rd 2017
Scriptures- Isaiah 64:1-9, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, Mark 13:24-37