Saturday 5:30 service, Pastor Perrymam presiding
The hymns we sang were these:
”Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending”
”Open Our Eyes, Lord”
”O, Jesus, I Have Promise”
”Soon and Very Soon” – this hymn was fun to sing. It reminds me of the type of hymn you hear in western films sung in church where people sit on benches and the pastor wears a black hat and a string tie.
The order of service was as usual. We began with the invocation, opening sentences followed by our confession and absolution of sins. We had two sets of responsive readings, one from Psalm 121, the other from Psalm 98. We passed the offering plate, prayed The Lord’s Prayer, recited The Apostles Creed and prayed. Pastor prayed for God to protect those in society who protect us. He prayed for Holy Cross to serve its congregation and neighborhood well, for those in our midst who serve in the military, the sick, the poor, the sorrowful, the healing and others who suffer from lack of faith.
Katie read Malachi 4:1-6 and Pastor Luke 21:5-8. These are at the bottom of this page.
Sermon: Living with the End in View
Pastor Perryman, following the Luke scripture, began by talking about the disciples and Jesus walking about the temple in Jerusalem. The disciples were in awe of the temple walls. Some of the stones were massive, some measuring 37′ wide x 12′ high x 18′ deep which mathematics out to 7,992 cubic feet. Multiply that by the weight of one cubic foot of limestone and it comes out to 1,352,583 pounds. To put into household perspective, you would need 8,726 top-loading clothes washers to equal the weight of that temple stone. That’s quite a laundry room for you.
The disciples were from the very rural town of Galilea. It’s mostly a fishing town with a simple lifestyle. Their awe would be similar to that of a desert resident visiting New York City for the first time in these modern times. While they exclaimed their wonderment to Jesus, He was having none of it. Jesus had already seen all the great cities of the world when Satan was tempting Him during His 40 day fast in the desert and knew anything built by man is only a temporary monument to their own selfishness.
He responded to the disciples that one day each of these stones would be thrown from their foundation. Hearing this news wasn’t dis-similar to our memories of the Twin Towers in NYC falling to the ground. How could that possibly happen? And if so, when and how? Jesus ignored the ‘how and why’ question but instead focused on the ‘you’d better be prepared for destruction’. Had we known the towers were to fall on September 11 and knew there was no way to stop it or save the lives of the dead to come it certainly would have been critical to bring the Gospel to them. The same urgency is needed for everyone lost and undone from Jesus not just for some day we wait for in the future but for today included. The ‘great and terrible Day of The Lord’ isn’t meant just for end times speculators but for every person, every day. If I die tomorrow (because it isn’t promised to me) I’d pretty much say my ‘great and terrible Day of The Lord’ would be November 19, 2019. Jesus has us saving souls through Him rather than predicting signs and dreaming dreams. Even Jesus didn’t know when the end was, only God.
Pastor pulled three themes from the reading and broke them down this way:
- Be wary, be cautious – Many people lost their lives to charlatans like David Koresh, Jim Jones, Sun Yung Moon and other self-described messiahs. All these ‘messiahs’ died under miserable circumstances. They have stayed dead. Many of their folowers either died with them or if they lived continued to follow their leaders’ teachings. These people had no king. We live in a day, as was back in old and new testament times, where they and we declare our ‘god’ as ‘what was right in their own eyes’. While we look at these people as ‘poor souls smug in their beliefs’ it is actually today’s Lutherans who are ’smug in our beliefs’. We think how ‘blessed’ we are in everything we do for The Lord yet we don’t reach out, including me, to those souls spiraling out of control. We congratulate ourselves and consider ourselves ‘blessed’ for reaching a funding campaign goal, various short mission trips, a rise in service attendance and other ‘good’ things we do for The Lord. There is no doubt those are blessings for us and whichever church we attend but … the word ‘our’.
- Be strong and confident – Do not be caught up in the end times hysteria. Jesus says it will come when it comes and we’ll know this when He comes down from the sky. But being humans we can’t stand not knowing when something is going to happen. People read and try to divine Scripture, guessing how long a ‘generation’ is, using the new state of Israel (1948 version) to determine the next steps in prophecy which bring us closer to the end, and reading our own agendas into modern day politics. I’d listened on the car radio about 12 years ago to two end times ‘professors’ who declared ex-British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, as the Anti-Christ. They came to this conclusion partly based on their opinions that he was ‘handsome’. Oy! We know this mess is upon us because we see the divisions in families. Moms verses daughters, sons verses dads, and everybody hates the crazy brother-in-law. Meals and parties are ruined because we can’t keep the peace for three hours. We also see our earth suffering from typhoons, pestilence, roaring seas, storms, heavy snowfalls and earthquakes. And, lastly, we can see it in His Church where theology is twisted and doctrine watered down to accommodate anyone’s wishes and desires. Pastor Perryman quoted a report that in 11 years, 2030, the Lutjeran Church – Missouri Synod will have only half the churches it does now. This will be caused by fewer pastors joining the seminary and fewer people joining the church. Why join a church with a strong doctrine when you can go next door and be catered to by clergy who ‘bend the rules’ just to keep members and donations rolling in? It’s certainly a temptation to ‘bend the knee’ and make life easier for oneself than keep your chin up for Jesus.
- Be assured and hopeful – all those things about families, nature, society and the Church were mentioned by Jesus in the Luke scripture. Everything remains the same under the sun and there is nothing any of us can do to change the outcome. What we can do is seek out and help those in need of aid, comfort, shelter and the gospel. That’s it. It’s all Jesus asks us to do. Being humans, we want to see justice wrought upon our enemies. But wait! Who said something about vengeance and justice? Jesus said something about vengance and justice. He said He will judge and He will punish on our behalves. We need to do our work and Jesus will do His work. One day we will be delivered unto life with Jesus where, and it is difficult for me to imagine, our thoughts, words and deeds will be pure.
1-3 “Count on it: The day is coming, raging like a forest fire. All the arrogant people who do evil things will be burned up like stove wood, burned to a crisp, nothing left but scorched earth and ash— a black day. But for you, sunrise! The sun of righteousness will dawn on those who honor my name, healing radiating from its wings. You will be bursting with energy, like colts frisky and frolicking. And you’ll tromp on the wicked. They’ll be nothing but ashes under your feet on that Day.” God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so.
4 “Remember and keep the revelation I gave through my servant Moses, the revelation I commanded at Horeb for all Israel, all the rules and procedures for right living.
5-6 “But also look ahead: I’m sending Elijah the prophet to clear the way for the Big Day of God—the decisive Judgment Day! He will convince parents to look after their children and children to look up to their parents. If they refuse, I’ll come and put the land under a curse.”
The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times
5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.
20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”