Saturday, November 12, 2016

Year C, Proper 28, Luke 21:5-19, “Heck of a Week”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.  Amen

Well, it’s been a heck of a week.
One of the nice things about having Minnesota roots is that you have a whole vocabulary to deal with life.
Minnesota talk, they call it.
And thankfully, it gave me the words to describe this week.
You see, that phrase, it’s been a “heck of a week” in Minnesota talk covers a multitude of things.
To say it’s been a heck of a week may mean
                That the Vikings finally won the Super Bowl.
                That your dog died.
It’s been a heck of a week.

Donald Trump won the Presidency.
Heck of a week.
Hillary Clinton lost after leading in the polls right up to the election.
Heck of a week.
And so now we anticipate and try to guess what kind of President Donald Trump will actually be.
Will he, together with the Republican congress be able to usher in a new era of conservative legislation, and accomplish some long term goals?
Or will moderation temper the day?
Donald Trump met with President Obama and two things came out of the meeting.
Trump has said repeatedly since that meeting, that President Obama, “is a good man.”
And secondly, he indicated that there may be some compromises on Obamacare, having expressed a willingness to keep some of the more important provisions in place, even as they try to fix the problems.
Gee, could he end up being more moderate than his opponents fear, or his supporters hope?
What kind of a President might he be?
Well, I know exactly what type of President he’ll be.
“He’ll be a “heck of a President”!”

Covers it all.

Meanwhile, the nation is anxious.
Tensions are mounting.

Some on the right, such as extremist groups like the Klu Klux Klan, see the Trump election as a great development and a sign that White Supremacy is back in vogue.
Their followers have committed any number of threatening, intimidating acts.
A conservative friend of mine referred to this as the activity of a bunch of criminal thugs.  And notice, he said, “I said criminal.”  It’s always wrong, no matter who does it.

And then on the left, protests are mounting.
And some of those protests have developed into what would best be described as riots.  And I would say, “Always wrong, no matter who is rioting.”
It’s been a heck of a week.

And then we read this morning Jesus’ dire prediction of the trials that are to come.
“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately." Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.
"But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.
“You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name.
Now, before we get all bent out of shape, fearing that the end is near, a little historical perspective is in order.
Jesus’ prediction came in response to the disciple’s awe at the beauty of the temple in Jerusalem. 
His prediction was that it would be destroyed.
It was.
In response to the continuous insurrections of the Jewish people against the Roman Empire, the emperor Nero dispatched an army under the command of Vespasian to put down the insurrection in 70 AD.  It was then that the Romans destroyed the Temple, leaving no stone upon another, as punishment for the Jewish people. 
In response to other rebellions, Rome finally had enough and destroyed the Jewish nation in 135 AD, dispersing those Jews who were left throughout the Roman Empire, and banning Jews from Jerusalem entirely. 
It wasn’t until recent times, 1948 to be exact, that the Jewish state came into existence again.
Also, during this time of trial, Christians were cast out of Judaism.
The result of that was that the Roman Empire no longer considered Christianity to be an acceptable religion, but a cult.
Christianity was then illegal; Christians were persecuted, martyred for their faith, crucified or thrown into the coliseum to die at the hands of the lions and gladiators. 
These were the times that Jesus predicted.
And yet, it seems that generation after generation must face similar times of tribulation.
Wars come and go.
Civil unrest raises its ugly face from time to time.
Natural disasters strike.
And betrayals abound.
Another night on CNN.
It’s just the way the world is.

What is important
                Is not Jesus’ predictions about what is to come,
But Jesus’ admonition about what we should do at those times.
“This will give you an opportunity to testify.”
This will be an opportunity to bear witness to our faith.
This will be a time when Christians can, with the help of God, show the world a different way.

Two things stand out for me.  And my prayer is that whatever the future may hold, that we as Christians may exhibit to the world these qualities:
First, from Micah 6:8 –
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
And the second, is the Great Commandment that Jesus lifted up for us—
“’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. ‘ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it:'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
                (Matthew 26: 37-39)

I am certain that there will be difficult times ahead, in part, because life is never easy.
I am certain that there will be political unrest and upheaval, because that is the nature of our times.
What I hope for is not that these things won’t happen, but rather that we might be faithful members of the Body of Christ through it all.
Justice, Kindness and Mercy.
Love for God,
                And love for our neighbor.
These are the things to which we are called.
This is the agenda for us, as a Biblical people.

Today, there are both great hopes and grave concerns about what a Trump presidency might mean.
But the real question before us is not what kind of president Donald Trump will be, but what kind of people we will be.
What about the poor?
Or women?
What about our gay and lesbian friends and family members?
What about the foreigner living in our Land?
Or the person of color?
What about the most vulnerable in our midst?
Can we do justice, love kindnes, and walk humbly?
Can we, amid all the political strife and unrest find it within ourselves to love our neighbor as our self? 
If we cannot be the type of people God is calling us to be, then it doesn’t matter who our president is, we will have failed.
But if we can respond faithfully, in this time, and every time, then love will have triumphed and grace will have prevailed. 
And that, my friends,
Will be one “heck of a day!”

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