Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.
In the name of the one true living God, source of all being, eternal Word, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
What a glorious place the Temple was. What a gracious sign of the abundance of God. What a — temporary, fleeting, mortal thing. All those stones so beautifully crafted, lovingly polished, chosen with discerning eye, mounted with pious care — all gone now, turned to rubble, turned to dust, or recycled: lost. Not one stone left upon another. Just a retaining wall is left. That’s the way we see it now: one wall with cracks in it. That’s the way Luke’s readers would have seen it. Already then in the year 70 the Roman Legions of Vespasian under the generalship of Titus had reduced the Temple — and the people of Israel — to ruin.
That’ll show ’em. That’ll show ’em who’s boss. Won’t it?
Jesus told the people admiring the Temple, back in the year 30 or so, that the Day was coming — the Day of the consummation of time; the Day when all this would come to a head. And he told them what it would mean — what was really going on beneath the surface.
What was happening on the surface would be — what we pray about every week: war, civil strife, and natural disaster.
It will look like the beginning of the end of the world, but don’t panic. Keep calm and carry on. It’s the end of the beginning. It’s a birth pang of the new creation— and you are the midwives.
As Herbert O'Driscoll said to us in his sermon at the 10:30 Service January 31, 2010 (http://stalbansedmonds.org/worship/):
In a time of great change, you can be mourners of the past or midwives of the future.
And Jesus calls his church, calls you, and calls all of us together, to be midwives.
Jesus calls us forward into a new creation.
He is promising something that he has already got hold of, and he has already experienced. He is the first of the new born, the first fruit of the struggles of birth of the new creation.
Nothing you may be called to go through will be more than you can in the Spirit endure.
Know this: that he has already gone before, and he has sent the Spirit to comfort and guide you on the way.
Whether you face death alone in this life’s course, through disease, accident, violence, or other causes, or whether you are among those, as so many are to this day, who are called into martyrdom for the faith, he will be there with you. As he has gone through all this before.
They arrested him. They persecuted him. They brought him before a king and a governor.
He took the opportunity to testify, to tell the truth to the powers of this world.
And he was put to death.
In his footsteps have followed disciples, saints, martyrs, and living witnesses to the truth: witnesses to the truth of God and the reign of God.
Remember the story of Alban: his hospitality, his faith, his courage, and his steadfast hope. Remember his faithful witness and testimony in the face of persecution. He was arrested. He was brought before a judge. He confessed, and he was condemned for his confession. Steadfast to the last, he was a witness to the one true living God who created all things. And his witness is a witness that endures.
It endures because he and we are called into a better building project than Herod’s.
We are called, ourselves, to be built up as living stones into the body of Christ.
Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5, NRSV)
You are the people of God, chosen and called. The hope that is in us, the hope instilled in us by Scripture, fed in us by the Holy Meal of the bread and the wine, and nurtured in us by faith, comes to fullness in the work and witness we have as the people of Christ.
We are his hands and his feet in the world in this place and in this time. We are his voice of encouragement, his welcoming embrace, and his faithful witnesses.
The one true living Church that endures all things is the faithful fellowship of believers.
Gathered and going forth in the name of Christ, with the Word of Scripture and the water of Baptism, the Bread and the Wine of the Holy Meal, with each other and with the Spirit,
Carrying on, embracing and holding fast to the blessed hope of everlasting life, which God has given us in our Savior Jesus Christ.
And you will say on that day:
Give thanks to the Lord,
call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
LORD God Almighty,
we look for you, we long for you; we watch for you, we wait for you.
Give us wisdom to know you and courage to serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom.
LORD, we ask you to give strength to all who are weary; strengthen our faith in times of trouble, when there are wars and rumors of wars, when there is famine and earthquake, may we continue to put our trust in you and to work for the coming of your kingdom.
We pray for all who are victims of war, earthquake, floods, famine, fire, poverty, injustice, and tyranny; for the homeless, the destitute, and the unemployed. We remember all who have lost vision and hope.
We give thanks for the coming of your kingdom; love will triumph over hatred, war will be no more. We pray for all who have entered into the fullness of your glory and for all our loved ones departed. The Lord is our strength. He alone is our salvation.
[David Adam, Glimpses of Glory (SPCK, 2000)]