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"Come Unto Me" - Day 21

Welcome to “Come Unto Me” as we journey together through the gospel of Luke. Let us pray: Gracious God we thank you for the Living Word that gives witness to the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. May your Holy Spirit open our souls to this Living Word. Amen

Saturday, August 22 / Luke Chapter 21 What follows are some thoughts from a lay minister with the Anglican Parish of South Queens that I found helpful. There have been countless books written trying to determine when the end of the world will come. No one knows the day or the time. "The angels in heaven don't know, and the Son himself doesn't know. Only the Father knows." (Mark 13:32 & Matthew 24:36). May we take to heart Luke 21: 36 "Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

"Luke’s Gospel reading is one that fundamentalist, Bible-thumping preachers would love because it speaks of the “hell, fire and brimstone” that will occur before Christ returns. Are we in the end times today? Maybe yes, maybe no. Although Christ mentions the signs of his return, and many of these signs are around us today, many of these signs also appeared in the past.

We often want to know what the future looks like. That’s why some people resort to seeing false prophets or teachers such as psychics and fortune-tellers. We have the only true psychic and fortune teller, and his name is Jesus. In our Gospel reading, Jesus tells us and the disciples what the future will be like, and he does not pull any punches. The future will not be easy for his followers as they do his work in our world. We must make our brothers and sisters in Christ (as well as the lost) feel the real need to be a part of the worshipping community. If we are persecuted for our work, we can take comfort in the knowledge that in the end God will fashion eternity.

The work will not be easy. We will get tired. It’s hard to put others’ needs ahead of our own. It’s hard to volunteer to work at the local food bank or help with the local Christmas Cheer campaign or teach a Bible study and to keep on doing it week after week, month after month, year after year. It’s even tough for us to do the right thing in our lives when it is often easier to take shortcuts. It is at times like these when we need that vision of Christ’s return to sustain us. We get that hope and keep it alive through prayer and worship. They fill our spiritual gas tank and give us the energy to continue.

Jesus does not promise us a rose garden here on earth. In fact, he makes it quite clear to us and his disciples that people will hate them and persecute them. He doesn’t tell the disciples that they will escape pain, and he doesn’t tell us that either. He promises that the persecutions that his followers will face will give them opportunities to witness to the Gospel.

Those who do Christ’s work in the world can expect to face persecution. For example, in the Third World Christians regularly face imprisonment, threats, harassment, beatings and even death for their faith. We here in the developed world do not face these extremes, but we still face the prospect of rejection, job loss or discrimination for our faith. Thankfully, in the times of trial, we can turn to God for strength, hope and support. He will give us the strength to face adversity and persecution. He will tell us what to do, say and even think, just like he promised the disciples that he will tell them what to do, say and think."

Let Us Pray: "Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. By your merciful protection alert us to the threatening dangers of our sins, and redeem us for your life of justice, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen (ELW Prayer - First Sunday in Advent C)

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Wednesday - 6:00 p.m. - Grace Council Meeting Thursday - 1:00 p.m. - Regular Food Pantry distribution Friday and Saturday - LAST WEEKEND - Garage Sale Sunday, 10:10 a.m. - Communion Worship at Grace


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