This is the next-to-last Sunday of the church year. The days dwindle down. . . . .
For the campus folks, that means ultimately that finals are closing in. But first, Thanksgiving break! For our IC friends, beginning November 17; for our Cornell, TC3 and SUNY-Cortland friends, beginning November 21. Hurray and have good breaks.
As we get near the end . . . of the semester, what do you want or need from your friends? How can they help you face and cope with the conclusion of classes and the beginning of finals?
Some people work well together and appreciate the nudging, coaxing, encouraging. Other people work well by being left to design and implement their own schedule for studying, writing, researching, exam taking.
The advantage to the end of the semester is that we know it is coming and we know when the finals are scheduled.
In the journey with Jesus, his disciples and followers did not know when the end of his earthly life was going to occur. He had been trying to teach them that he was going to die – and be raised. But they had trouble understanding that, believing that, much less getting it on their calendars. Imagine trying to prepare for a final that could be sprung upon you at any time. Just be ready whenever!
The Book of Hebrews was written in the face of persecution. As the end time approached, many became anxious. That is very understandable.
Today’s second lesson encourages people to trust God’s promise because God is faithful. It also encourages the people to nudge one another – even in such stressful and anxious times – to love others and to do good deeds for others. Even in such times, it’s still not all about me.
Continue in these increasingly anxious days and times to love one another and to do good deeds for others.
Almighty God, your sovereign purpose brings salvation to birth. Give us faith to be steadfast amid the tumults of this world, trusting that your kingdom comes and your will is done through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
SERMON: “The Call to Provoke One Another”
"At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. 2Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever."
19Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
3When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished? 5Then Jesus began to say to them, "Beware that no one leads you astray. 6Many will come in my name and say, 'I am he!' and they will lead many astray. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.