November 10, 2019

In the Hallway

Passage: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17, Luke 20:27-38

God of justice when you seem to close a door or a window and we are left in darkness you still remain with us. Thank you. Amen.

Paul must have felt like he was left in the dark. He had come to the small gathering of followers of Jesus taught them the way of the cross and left. But they are still a baby church often swayed by what other teachers say. So here he is dealing with ‘The Day of the Lord.’ From the Hebrew Scripture we learn this day is one of darkness and gloom. Not a day to want nor choose. But in Paul’s day that meaning has changed.
It’s not from the ‘Left Behind’ series when Jesus comes again and people are left to figure out how to live when everything has fallen apart. The Day of the Lord now means to Paul the day when Jesus does return and it’s a day of joy and eternity.

The problem with the church in Thessalonica is they have been told that day has come and it’s now gone. And they have been left behind scared witless questioning who is right and who they ought to follow. Enter Paul. He is their primary teacher and he writes them to stop worrying. Jesus has NOT come back they do not need to go into a frenzy thinking they have missed it all. But… they do still need to continue to focus on loving not only Jesus but their neighbors. Do good while they can all the while tending to their own souls. Good advice for us, too. Every generation or so someone comes up with the date Jesus will return, tells their church they need to get ready. So everyone quits their job leaves their home gathers to await the ‘Day of the Lord.’ And when it doesn’t come they are discouraged and stop believing in Jesus or God and especially their minister. Not a great way to live. Which is basically what Jesus is trying to tell the Sadducees who are out to trick him. OK, Jesus, this resurrection thing… what about this woman? And Jesus says, ‘Gentlemen, you’ve missed the point.’ Don’t worry about the future or heaven or resurrection. Worry about your own souls and how you are living for God now.

Again, good advice for us. We have to do now what we can for good simply because we might not have that specific opportunity tomorrow or next week. A teaching moment for Jesus we would be wise to live. This is not just to the Sadducees he focuses but to those who believe this life is it. Nothing afterwards no heaven no hell not even Purgatory. Nothing. But Jesus says there is and yet not to get so caught up in then
to miss now. And God is merciful beyond measure even when we mess up in the moment. So when someone is feeling dehumanized it’s up to us as lovers of Jesus to restore them to their true selves as best we can. A spouse being mentally or physically abused and made to incredibly unworthy. A word, a kindness can make such a difference in someone’s life. When a person or group of people are oppressed we are to help them into freedom.
(think Harriet Tubman or Oscar Schindler) When someone is deemed inferior to another or one group put below another by the mercy of God and our own love as community they can be raised up. In Jesus’ day, as in this parable, women were only good to bear children and take care of their husband and sons. Jesus, as we see over and over again, takes women from the status of property to the fullness of humanity.

The Sadducees are missing the point. It’s not about whether there is or there is not resurrection, it’s about how one lives ones life giving out mercy and love in abundance. God is present tense and God is a liberating God. So we are to be workers for justice we don’t need to be anxious about the future and every day is another opportunity to express gratitude for this life we have. But anxiety steals away gratitude and there are so many people living an anxious life. Some of us here are anxious about what the future may or may not bring. We see and hear evil inhabiting economic systems, powerful people, the arrogant who claim to be god-like. It is enough to make one anxious about the future! Jesus will say in Matthew’s gospel to not worry about tomorrow; today has enough of its own worries.

Take care of today through the graciousness of God, encourage each other toward a better day, live fully into NOW. And we can pass that along to anyone who might need to hear the same. Even when we feel alone in the dark, God is still with us and will never leave us. Ever. Amen

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