Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 33) (Green)
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
Readings ISAIAH 65:17-25; ISAIAH 12 (AS CANTICLE); 2 THESSALONIANS 3:6-13; LUKE 21:5-19

Collect Almighty God, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to be the light of the world. Free us from all that darkens and ensnares us, and bring us to eternal light and joy; through the power of him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Alt 1 God, who is faithful when all the foundations crumble: in the time of crisis, as holy places fall and nations stumble, give us the conviction to bear witness to your love, whatever the cost; through Jesus Christ, your Word and Wisdom.
Prayers for an Inclusive Church (2009) alt.

Alt 2 O God, in Christ you give us hope for a new heaven and a new earth. Grant us wisdom to interpret the signs of our times, courage to stand in the time of trial, and faith to witness to your truth and love. Amen.
Revised Common Lectionary Prayers (2002)

Prayer over the Gifts
Holy God, in this eucharist we renew our baptismal covenant. Help us, through our offering this day, to renounce all things that draw us from your love. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer After Communion
Gracious God, in this sacrament we have shared the body and blood of Christ. May we who have been nourished by holy things bear witness to his light, and share in his eternal priesthood; for he is Lord for ever and ever.

First Reading
8 AM THE FIRST LESSON IS TAKEN FROM THE 65TH CHAPTER OF THE BOOK OF ISAIAH, BEGINNING AT THE 17TH VERSE.
10 AM A READING FROM THE BOOK OF ISAIAH.

For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord and their descendants as well. Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.

8 AM THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD.
10AM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.
THANKS BE TO GOD.

ISAIAH 65:17-25

Psalm
CANTICLE
REFRAIN You shall draw water with rejoicing.

Surely, it is God who saves me; I will trust in him and not be afraid. For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defence, and he will be my Saviour. Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing from the springs of salvation. R
And on that day you shall say, give thanks to the Lord and call upon his name; make his deeds known among the peoples; see that they remember that his name is exalted. R
Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, and this is known in all the world. Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel. R

CANTICLE 3, BAS (ISAIAH 12:2-6)

Second Reading
8AM THE EPISTLE IS TAKEN FROM THE 3RD CHAPTER THE SECOND LETTER OF PAUL TO THE THESSALONIANS, BEGINNING AT THE 6TH VERSE.
10 AM A READING FROM THE SECOND LETTER OF PAUL TO THE THESSALONIANS

Now we command you, beloved in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labour we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.

8 AM THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD.
10AM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT IS SAYING TO THE CHURCH.
THANKS BE TO GOD.

2 THESSALONIANS 3:6-13

Gospel
8 am THE LORD BE WITH YOU. AND WITH THY SPIRIT.
THE HOLY GOSPEL IS WRITTEN IN THE 21ST CHAPTER OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT LUKE, BEGINNING AT THE 5TH VERSE.
GLORY BE TO THEE, O LORD.
10 am THE LORD BE WITH YOU. AND ALSO WITH YOU.
THE HOLY GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO SAINT LUKE.
GLORY TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.
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.”

They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?”

And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.”

Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.”
THIS IS THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.
PRAISE TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST. (LUKE 21:5-19)

SERMON

Let us pray.

Holy God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer.

AMEN.

It would be easy, I think, to have turned on the news of the past week and catalogue a litany of all that is wrong in the world.

I suspect that I needn’t bother. The ancient Chinese curse is perhaps being visited upon the world, in that we do indeed “live in interesting times.” Jesus seems to know the fact humanity would muddle things up. He would, of course. He was human in every way – the same as any one of us, fully human. In his short 33 years Jesus got the opportunity to see the very best and the very worst of human nature.

He experienced the best of humanity in the love and adoration of the Wise Men around his birth. The love of his mother memorialized in stained glass windows and hymns propelled Him to adulthood. The welcome he received from Zechariah in the temple would have knocked the sharp edges from even the most jaded observer.

Jesus also witnessed the very worst of human nature. The slaughter of every child of his age by a frightened Herod that necessitated the fleeing into exile of his family was horrifying.

The exclusion of the woman at the well, the lepers, the poor, the ritually unclean, and the alien was epidemic in his society. This week we have borne witness to political weirdness and political violence in the land to our South [North, I guess]. The political campaign in the United States has produced a result that few thought possible just a few short days ago. Flowing from that has been a period of civil unrest that confirms to me that we are living in interesting times, to be sure. We have seen protests turn damaging and people targeted for violence for being different in some way.

Nation, in the racialized sense of the word, is turning against nation.

Kingdom is turning against kingdom, in the sense that curt messages are being transmitted that make clear the displeasure of foreign powers. The degradation of God’s creation in the pursuit of oil and gas are producing earthquakes in the West.

There are famines and plagues creeping across Africa as we speak. Ethiopia is struggling with its worst famine in more than 50 years – worse even than the one that prompted such public attention in the 1980s.

So, what are WE to do in the midst of these portents and signs?

Jesus gives us the answer.

We are to take this opportunity to testify. Even in the face of forces seemingly impossible to counter. We are to testify.

But what are we to testify about?

Testify to what you have heard. Use words if you think it necessary.

The most effective testimony is actions though.

So, what have we heard and to what are we to testify?

It is the message of love of God and of neighbour that we are called to proclaim by word and by deed.

Just love!

We are called to love our neighbours – all of them without playing favourites.

Love thy God.

Then…
Love thy Jewish neighbour.
Love thy Gentile neighbour.
Love thy Muslim neighbour.
Love thy American neighbour.
Love thy Black neighbour.
Love thy homeless neighbour.
Love thy immigrant neighbour.
Love thy leftist neighbour.
Love thy rightist neighbour.
Love thy Disabled neighbour.
Love thy Male neighbour.
Love thy Female neighbour.
Love thy Gender ambiguous neighbour.
Love thy Gay neighbour.
Love thy Straight neighbour
Love thy Atheist neighbour.
Love thy Christian neighbour.
Love them all as you love yourself.

It is not easy. Lord knows it’s not – He really does.

He warns that there will be a cost to our testimony – ridicule, prison, even death. But Jesus is pretty unambiguous. We are called to testify to the love that we have known in Christ Jesus. The love that sacrificed everything for us on the long ago cross on Calvary.

Make known the love of God for His creation. It is guaranteed to be unpopular.

If people are unhappy with your testimony, you know you are doing it right, I suspect. So, let us go forth from this place to love, love, love, really love our neighbour.

Let us pray.
God, who is faithful when all the foundations crumble: in the time of crisis, as holy places fall and nations stumble, give us the conviction to bear witness to your love, whatever the cost; through Jesus Christ, your Word and Wisdom.

AMEN