Readings: Lectionary Year B, 2nd before Advent
Daniel 12.1-3 God’s promise of resurrection and warning of judgement.
Hebrews 10.11-25 Jesus’ unique sacrifice opened a permanent way to God.
Mark 13.1-8 Jesus warns “Don’t be misled by appearances: wait for God”.
Saints surround the crucified Jesus. Clayton & Bell, All Saints’ church, Elm.
Jesus is shown here surrounded by onlooking martyrs holding the symbols of their martyrdom. Does this image help us to imagine what it might cost to “hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering” (Hebrews 10:23)?
Some thoughts on the readings
– All three readings deal in different ways with God’s final judgement: Daniel speaks of resurrection, Hebrews of forgiveness, and Mark of Christ’s return.
– At the end of the book of Daniel is a long vision in which the Lord speaks to Daniel of the rise and fall of kings and dynasties, but in ‘coded’ ways. Today’s passage rounds off the sequence with a prophecy of the end times including the resurrection of the dead who are “written in the book”.
– All the people through history who have predicted the end of the world have one thing in common: they have all been wrong! Jesus tells his followers not to be fooled by false Messiahs, rumours, or even ‘signs’ – the end will come according to God’s timetable, not ours, so there’s no point worrying about it.
– The Hebrews passage, though not naming “the Trinity” explicitly, speaks of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit all acting separately and differently.
– It also reminds us not to neglect meeting together – ie. make church a priority.
Suggestions for further Bible reading
Amos 5:18-20 This is the earliest mention in Scripture of “the Day of the Lord” which became so commonplace later that it was usually abbreviated to “that/the day”. Amos warns that it will be a severe test – God’s verdict is not automatic.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 Paul reassures his readers that those who die before Jesus returns are not lost. 2000 years later, that’s a very relevant message.
Revelation 6:12-17 The opening of the sixth seal in John’s vision heralds the beginning of the end for this world. The ‘Lamb’ is Christ – the one who is opening the seals and bringing about the final judgement.
What other passages come to mind when you read today’s readings?
Points for Prayer
– Give thanks that our salvation was accomplished once and for all: there is nothing more to pay, no ‘additional charges’, our way to God is open.
– Pray for all who are harmed by “wars and rumours of war”, especially refugees and human trafficking victims: ask God to grant them justice.
– Pray for our church buildings, especially those needing major repairs at the moment: ask God for wisdom to use them well in the service of the Gospel.
Points for Action
– During the next few weeks, think of those among your neighbours and friends who will be facing a first Christmas alone, and set aside some time for them.
– Consider donating to a charity providing winter support for the homeless.