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Series: New Testament Eschatology

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From time to time, I hear a lot about the early church’s understanding of the “end of the world” or their belief that the “Second Coming of Jesus” would take place within their generation. And it’s usually not in a very good light. “They were obviously mistaken,” is often the remark I hear most. I know it’s hard to imagine but what if we’re mistaken? What if we’ve misunderstood what they meant? I’m hoping that this series on some of the major statements from the New Testament about the “end of the world” will show that they weren’t mistaken in their understanding of the “signs of the times.”
Before we begin, however, let’s look at some terms that will have to be used. As most of you know, I try to refrain from using big “church” words. My reason for this is because those words are like suitcases where ideas and thoughts and understandings are packed into them. To explain the words would mean a long time spent unpacking the suitcases and explaining their contents. While such a pilgrimag…

Lectionary Reflection — Third Sunday of Advent (Year C)

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Luke 3.7-18 (CEB; adapted):1 7Then John said to the crowds who came to be baptized by him, “You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8Produce fruit that shows you’ve changed your hearts and lives. And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, ‘Abraham is our father.’ I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 9The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire.”
10The crowds asked him, “What then should we do?”
11He answered, “Whoever has two shirts must share with the one who has none, and whoever has food must do the same.”
12Even tax collectors came to be baptized. They said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13He replied, “Collect no more than you’re authorized to collect.”
14Soldiers asked, “What about us? What should we do?”
He answered, “Don’t cheat or harass anyone, and be satisfied with your pay.”
15…

Lectionary Reflection — Second Sunday of Advent (Year C)

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Philippians 1.3-11 (CEB; adapted):1 3I thank God every time I mention you in my prayers. 4I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy. 5I’m glad because of the way you’ve been my partners in the ministry of the gospel from the time you first believed it until now. 6I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. 7I have good reason to think this way about all of you because I keep you in my heart. You’re all my partners in God’s grace, both during my time in prison and in the defense and support of the gospel. 8God is my witness that I feel affection for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.

9This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. 10I pray this so that you’ll be able to decide what really matters and so you’ll be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. 11I pray that you’ll then be fil…

Lectionary Reflection — First Sunday of Advent (Year C)

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1 Thessalonians 3.9-13 (CEB):1 9How can we thank God enough for you, given all the joy we have because of you before our God? 10Night and day, we pray more than ever to see all of you in person and to complete whatever you still need for your faith. 11Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus guide us on our way back to you. 12May the Lord cause you to increase and enrich your love for each other and for everyone in the same way as we also love you. 13May the love cause your hearts to be strengthened, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his people. Amen.
Other readings: Jeremiah 33.14-16; Psalm 25.1-10; Luke 21.25-36
Collect: All-Loving God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus the Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and …

Lectionary Reflection — Reign of Christ Proper 29 (34) (Year B)

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John 18.33-37 (CEB; adapted):1 33Pilate went back into the palace. He summoned Jesus and asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
34Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own or have others spoken to you about me?”
35Pilate responded, “I’m not a Jew, am I? Your nation and its chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?”
36Jesus replied, “My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world. If it did, my guards would fight so that I wouldn’t have been arrested by the Jewish leaders. My kingdom isn’t from here.”
37“So you are a king?” Pilate said.
Jesus answered, “You say that I’m a king. I was born and came into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth. Whoever accepts the truth listens to my voice.”
Other readings:Daniel 7.9-10, 13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1.4b-8
Collect: All-loving and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and addicted to sin…