A reflection for Remembrance Sunday

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Offered for Sunday 8th November 2020


Stephen

Reflections Script

Remembrance Sunday

3rd Sunday before Advent

November 8th 2020


"Keep awake therefore,
for you know neither the day nor the hour."
These words come straight from
the mouth of Jesus in Matthew 25: 13;
so why is there so much idle speculation
about when and where and how
the second coming will happen!

When I first put my mind to this subject
back in youth fellowship times
with Christian films
such as 'A Thief in the Night',
the speculation was a minor irritation
but coming up to date
with the dubious Chad and Lori Daybell
predicting Christ would come again
on July 22nd 2020!, enough said!

That minor irritation has now grown
into a major irritation and concern!
Christians spend to much time pawing their way
through the pages of Scripture
trying to predict the time,
date and how the second coming
will happen while forgetting Christ's words
and not lifting their heads from
the pages of scripture
and seeing a world in so much need,
forgetting the words of
Amos Chapter 5: 21 to 24 which still
reverberate through the years and generation "

18 Alas for you who desire
   the day of the Lord!
   Why do you
21 I hate, I despise your festivals,
   and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 Even though you offer me
   your burnt-offerings and grain-offerings,
   I will not accept them;
   and the offerings of well-being
   of your fatted animals
   I will not look upon.
23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;
   I will not listen to the melody
   of your harps.
24 But let justice roll down like waters,
   and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

This said although we are not to
ruminate on the time and date
of the second coming
there is much to say about
what we should be doing while we wait....


Let us Pray


Lord Jesus Christ,
whose Second Coming we await
with eager anticipation,
let your coming be with triumph,
but not to our shame;
let your coming be with glory,
but not to our surprise;
let your coming be with justice,
but not to our judgement.
Make our love burn bright for you,
our loyalty endure,
and our faith increase,
that with you
we may rejoice on that day
of your choosing,
and so enter into your
eternal kingdom and presence
when all creation will be
brought back under your
supreme and just rule.
Amen


Address

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
How often have we said to ourselves,
"If only I had known..."?
"If only I had known the snowstorm
would mean I was stuck in the car
overnight on the M25!
I'd have packed a blanket."
"If only I'd known that topic
would definitely be on the exam paper,
I would not have skipped revising it."
"If only I'd realised what it actually cost,
I would have been able to budget
so that I could afford it."

It is all too easy to be
wise after the event,
to look back and see how
we could have been better prepared;
watching the weather forecast;
not taking short cuts
in our exam revision;
or checking a price before deciding to buy

It can be all the more frustrating
as such actions are not things
we are incapable of doing.
The key element is timing.
We need to have our resources
to hand before the event occurs.
Afterwards is too late.

As it is for the things of earth,
so it is for the things of heaven.
As Jesus teaches about the final
consummation of God's kingdom
through his ultimate return,
he tells the parable of the
ten bridesmaids in Matthew 25.

Through it, he underlines
the importance of wise preparation
for the second coming.
The bridesmaids are waiting
to play their part in the wedding celebrations;
their "lamps" are likely to be torches,
long poles topped with lighted rags soaked in oil,
with which they will welcome
the approaching bridegroom
amidst a joyful torchlight procession.
But the bridegroom's delayed arrival
reveals these ten bridesmaids
are in two distinct groups:
half have brought enough reserves of oil
to keep their torches alight
for an extended period;
the other five have
neglected such provision.

Alarmed to see their flames dwindling,
these five bridesmaid's leave
in search of more oil.
But by deserting their post,
they miss the moment:
the bridegroom arrives;
the wedding banquet begins,
and they come back to find
themselves shut out of the celebrations.

The excluded bridesmaids
may have been delightful
and in all other ways worthy people,
but that is of no use to them
if they aren't ready for the wedding.
They are judged for their lack of wisdom.

All ten bridesmaids have had
the same opportunity to equip
themselves for their role.
Those who are ill-prepared
are assuming that everything will happen
according to their predetermined schedule.

But it is not the bridesmaids' day.
The wedding couple are the centre
of the occasion.
Jesus highlights
just as the wise bridesmaids know,
they are not in control
of the bridegroom's arrival,
so his listeners need to be aware
God cannot be held to a human timetable

We can trust Jesus' promise he will return.
Our trust is complete
when we leave the timing in his hands,
and focus on maintaining a state of readiness
to receive him.
We need to keep our faith alight
more than trying to pin
Jesus down to a date on a calendar.

Waiting for the Lord
is not a state of inaction
or passiveness,
but involves an active nurturing
of our faith and obedience.
Our Christian journey,
after all,
is one of growing into Christlikeness.

Seeing our future as held within
his hands alone
can enable us to stay focused on Christ,
strengthening our relationship
with the one in whose presence
we will spend eternity.
It is foolish, says Jesus,
to rely on our own understanding
of when we expect him to appear.

The results of not preparing
for life's ordinary events
may not be too momentous.
The consequences of not being ready for
the Lord's return are
far more catastrophic.
How can we be those who live
in a state of spiritual readiness?
Keeping company with
the Saviour is at the heart of
preparing for his coming kingdom:
taking time to read God's word,
to pray and listen
for his guidance each day.
We can make it our aim to
stay close to Jesus,
using every opportunity to act
as his Spirit directs us
in our ordinary lives
and so fan the flame
of his life within us.

We can forgive others and
receive forgiveness ourselves,
be willing to worship
and cultivate gratitude
for his grace, day by day.
In so doing,
we will be ready on that final day
when we hear the heavenly
bridegroom's voice calling us
by name and welcoming us into
the eternal joy of God's wedding banquet.


To Summarise

Proper preparation
for what lies ahead is better
than being wise after the event.
Jesus' parable of the ten bridesmaids
urges us to be ready for his return.
The wise bridesmaids
have all that is needed,
to wait until whenever
the bridegroom arrives.
Putting our whole faith
in Jesus means trusting
his timing as well as his promises.
The best way to prepare for Jesus'
future return is to live for and
with him in the present.


Our Blessing

May you remain watchful and alert?
As you travel on your journey
of faith may the wisdom of God
guide you,
the love of God surround you
and the joy and peace of God
fill your hearts
And the blessing of God Almighty.....


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