Advent #1…Series B
Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church (December 2&3-2017)
Title: Heaven and Earth WILL Pass AWAY!!
Text: Mark 13:24-37.
This weekend we celebrate the first Sunday in Advent and the beginning of a brand new Church Year (so…Happy New Year, everyone!). And Jesus’ word for us this evening/morning is simple…straight forward and easy to understand: Nothing in this life is permanent…nothing is permanent…everything we know and love in this life is temporary…Everything (absolutely EVERYTHING) is passing away. The world (which seems so solid…so permanent…so secure) is actually in the process of dying…we are moving slowly but steadily toward a dramatic conclusion…to the time when there will be no more time…and there is nothing that we can do to slow down, let alone stop this inevitable decline toward destruction. Friends, the startling message of Advent is that HEAVEN and EARTH WILL PASS AWAY! You see, ADVENT (the four Sunday’s preceding Christmas) is not really about Jesus’ birth in a barn in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago…Advent isn’t about Christmas at all…Advent is about preparing for Jesus’ return…His SECOND COMING…at the conclusion of human history! And the question which insists on being asked and answered in light of the startling message of Advent is this: “How do we live as the People of God…as disciples of Jesus Christ in the midst of a world which is dying…a world which is passing away?’.
It is interesting that Science and the Church (which have so often been at odds with each other) are in remarkable agreement when it comes to the central message of ADVENT. A couple of years ago I read a fascinating book written by a Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg called: The First Three Minutes…A Modern View of the Creation of the Universe. In the book, the author argued that the universe began 20 thousand million years ago (that’s right…twenty thousand million years ago) with an enormous explosion…the BIG BANG…which generated heat in excess of 100 million degrees centigrade. Now here is the really interesting part: Ever since the BIG BANG, the universe has been expanding, and, in spite of the reality of Global Warming on planet earth, the universe is actually cooling down. The author’s main thesis is that the universe is slowly, but inevitably moving toward disorder; decline; decay; death and destruction. It’s what physicists call ENTROPY. So, what this means is that Jesus’ word in our Gospel for this first Sunday in Advent not only proclaims profound THEOLOGICAL TRUTH…it also proclaims SCIENTICFIC TRUTH…Heaven and Earth WILL Pass Away!
But my friends, I am here today to remind you that all is not gloom…doom…and destruction on this first Sunday of the new church year…Yes…it is true that Heaven and Earth will pass away”. But I am here to remind you of the Good News: In the midst of a world that is dying…a world that is passing away, there is one thing that is permanent…one thing that is not in the process of disorder/decline/decay and destruction…one thing that is ETERNAL…and that is the words of Jesus…the Christ: Heaven and Earth will pass away, Jesus said, but my WORDS…my WORDS will not pass away!
At the conclusion of WWII, a Polish priest, Fr. Vladimir Tawlik, visited the city of Warsaw in his native Poland. And what Fr. Tawlik saw when he returned to Warsaw was the almost total and complete destruction…(it is estimated that 84% of Warsaw…what was once one of the most beautiful cities in Europe… was the result of German and Russian bombing and artillery assaults). As Fr. Tawlik walked down Main St. in downtown Warsaw after the war, the only thing that remained standing was one wall of one building (that building had housed the Polish headquarters of the British Bible Society). And inscribed on the one wall of the one remaining building on Main Street in downtown Warsaw after the war were words clearly visible from the street: Heaven and Earth will pass away…but my WORDS will not pass away…
So I return to my original question: What shall we do…how shall we live as disciples of the crucified and risen Christ in the midst of a world which is passing away…in the midst of a universe which is unraveling? Well, it seems to me the answer to that question is quite obvious…in the midst of a world that is dying…a universe that is unraveling…you cling tenaciously to the one thing that is permanent…the one thing that is NOT passing away…the one thing that is eternal…you cling to the Word of Jesus Christ…Cling tenaciously to the WORD…like a drowning person clings to a life raft…WHY…because Jesus Word is no ordinary word…ordinary words describe reality, but Jesus’ Word changes reality…Jesus’ Word creates faith…Jesus’ Word bring hope/joy/comfort and consolation to our restless hearts…Jesus’ Word is the only thing that is permanent…the only thing that has the power to save us and to save this lost/hurting and dying world!.
HEAVEN AND EARTH WILL PASS AWAY…But MY WORDS WILL NOT PASS AWAY!!