Friday, November 12 2021
“Our church, which has been fighting in these years only for its self-preservation, as though that were an end in itself, is incapable of taking the word of reconciliation and redemption to mankind and the world. Our earlier words are therefore bound to lose their force and cease, and our being Christians today will be limited to two things; prayer and righteous action among men. All Christian thinking, speaking, and organizing must be born anew out of this prayer and action…It is not for us to prophesy the day (although the day will come) when people will once more be called so to utter the word of God that the world will be changed and renewed by it. It will be a new language, perhaps quite non-religious, but liberating and redeeming – as was Jesus’ language; it will shock people and yet overcome them by its power; it will be the language of a new righteousness and truth, proclaiming God’s peace with people and the coming of his kingdom…Till then the Christian cause will be a silent and hidden affair, but there will be those who pray and do right and wait for God’s own time.”
– Letters and Papers from Prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer-
Although some might complain, I feel that we live in a wonderful country and that we have a fabulous church. I give thanks for the freedoms we have and give thanks for those who have defended this great nation and for those who have kept the faith. Please join me in service on Sunday at 8:00 or 10:00 and give thanks to those who have served this country and defended our freedom.
My mom was born in Germany and her grandfather suffered persecution from the Nazis for refusing to give in to Hitler. He was taken into custody and tortured for refusing to reveal the names of the Jews that worked for him at the Berlin Broadcasting Company. He later died of a gunshot to the head. My grandfather was forced to give up the company and come to America or face the same persecution. The bad news in our lessons today is that there are forces of evil in the world ready to destroy us and what we believe in. The Good News is that if we have faith, we have the blessed hope of everlasting life.
In today’s Gospel, the disciples comment on the magnificent temple in Jerusalem. Jesus points to the temple and says, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left there upon another: all will be thrown down.” Some of you might know that the temple at the time of Jesus was beautifully adorned. Josephus describes the temple as such, “whatever was not overlaid with gold was purest white” (Josephus, Jewish War 5.5.6). King Herod the Great had lavishly adorned the temple with gold. In the year 70 C.E. the Romans, under Titus, burned the temple to the ground and destroyed it. Not a stone in the temple was left unturned. Gold was removed from each stone before laying it to waste. Josephus speaks of these terrible years in Jerusalem as the Zealots fought against the Romans and at times against their own people. There was starvation and suffering and lots of grim stories. When Jesus spoke in front of the temple, it was beyond the imagination of the disciples that something so beautiful would be destroyed in their lifetime. Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?’ Then Jesus began to say to them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!”* And they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For 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.”
I am thankful for this beautiful church at St. John’s and all the wonderful people that attend here. Yet I do not take for granted that all churches in America will survive. Attendance at church is in a steep decline in New York and in the Episcopal Church because folks have moved on to other priorities. Continue to utter the word of God that the world will be changed and renewed by it. Spread the language of a new righteousness and truth, proclaiming God’s peace with people and the coming of his kingdom. I urge you to continue to support this church and have faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. St. John’s will continue to thrive because we are doing God’s work in Huntington and you want that ministry to continue.
In Christ’s love,