Over the last few weeks, we have been exploring some things which really make us ask hard questions about the way we follow Jesus. We have looked at darkness, reversed our ideas of blessing and success, talked about what Jesus really cares about, asked what we are investing in, and explored the attitudes of our hearts.
These questions have raised several things within us that we want to address this week. Specifically when it comes to the ways we do Church.
And the readings this week call us to this.
In the story about Jesus and in our Thessalonians readings, we see a corrective for people who are missing the point. Both Jesus and Paul redirect a problem to say: You’re asking the wrong question. You have missed the point.
Haggai comes in after the destruction of a Temple, which was the result of God’s people missing the point. God comes in and tells the people, don’t be stressed about what you have lost – I am doing something better.
Then in Psalms, we have the writer calling out to God for protection during difficulty.
These readings raise some questions:
Where have we missed the point?
Where are we asking questions whose answers do not matter all that much?
If I have missed the point, what am I really supposed to be striving towards?
When we ask these questions, it often leads us to tearing some things down we have gotten quite used to. It might require us to rethink the way we do things, and be willing to give up some things we hold sacred so new life and better ways of doing become more available.
But changing and giving up sacred things is always difficult.
So we are given promises. We don’t tear down just for the sake of tearing down. We tear down so new life begins.
And when that gets hard to do, we find God is right there with us in new and life-giving ways.
Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”
On the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius, in the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying: Speak now to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, and say, Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord; take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord; work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendor, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts.
Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry;
give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
From you let my vindication come;
let your eyes see the right.
If you try my heart, if you visit me by night,
if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me; my mouth does not transgress.
As for what others do,
by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me, hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.
Guard me as the apple of the eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
from the wicked who despoil me,
my deadly enemies who surround me.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17
As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you?
But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
God, we are so prone to missing the point.
We get distracted, we lose focus, we make silly things more important than they should be.
We thank you that you know this about us and offer us grace all along the way.
We thank you that you are with us even in our difficulties:
When we miss the point,
When we have a hard time with change,
When we forget to keep our eyes on you
Help us not to cling to anything but You.
Give us grace Lord, give us grace.