Advent #1…Series C
Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church(December 2nd, 2018)
Title: Heaven and Earth WILL Pass AWAY!!
I want to begin my homily on this 1stSunday of Advent by asking a question…it is a disturbing question; a question I suspect most of us would just as soon not think about. It is, in fact, Question # 146 in the Book of Questionsis this: If you knew that a thermonuclear disaster would occur in exactly five years from today and nobody and nothing would survive…what would you do… how would you change your present life? If you knew that on December 2nd, 2023 everything would come to a screeching halt, what difference would that make in the way you lived your life today and tomorrow and for the next five years? What would you change about your life? Where would you invest your time and your money…what in the world would you do?
I told you it was a disturbing question…but it is a uniquely Advent Question, and in our Gospel reading for today, Jesus teaches us that the universe…the world in which we live and move and have our existence…this world which seems so permanent…so secure, is, in fact in the slow process of dying…it is passing away, and we are all moving toward a dramatic conclusion. I have always thought that this is one of Christianity’s unique contributions…the idea that human history is not CYCLICAL (we are not going around in circles as the Greeks and Romans believed), but human history is LINEAR…it is moving in a straight line and toward a dramatic conclusion, and there is nothing we can do to stop it or even to slow it down. And, friends, what is true about the universe and human history is also true about your life and about my life and about the lives of every human being on the planet. And the startling message of Advent is powerfully expressed in Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel: Heaven and Earth will Pass Away, and the truth is that the end…the time when there will be no more time…is closer today than it was yesterday and tomorrow it will be closer than it is today!
But my friends, 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 unraveling…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 word of Jesus…the Christ: Heaven and Earth will pass away, Jesus said, but my WORDS…my WORDS will not pass away!
A true story: during the final days of WWII a polish priest, Fr. Vladimir Tawlik, returned to his hometown of Warsaw. Before the war, Warsaw was one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, but it was almost totally destroyed during the war. As Fr. Tawlik walked down Main St. in Warsaw, there was only one building that was left standing (everything else was destroyed) and the only building left standing was the Polish headquarters of the British Bible Society. And inscribed on the one wall of the only building left standing on Main St. in downtown Warsaw 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: If you knew that a thermonuclear disaster would occur in exactly five years from today (on December 2nd, 2023) and nobody and nothing would survive…what would you do…How would you live as a Disciple of the Carpenter from Nazareth in the midst of a world which is passing away…in the midst of a universe which is coming unglued and is dying?
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 in the process of disorder/decay/decline and destruction…the one thing that is Eternal…you cling to the Word of Jesus Christ…Cling to the WORD of Jesus…like a drowning person clings to a life raft…WHY…because (as I have said so many times before)…Jesus Word is no ordinary word…ordinary words describe reality, but Jesus’ Word is so filled with the power/presence/potency of Almighty God, that it doesn’t describe reality…it changes reality…Jesus’ Word creates faith…Jesus’ Word bring hope/joy/comfort and consolation to our restless hearts…Jesus’ Word (when it is heard/believed/lived) is the only thing that has the power to save us…the ONLY THING that has the power to save this lost/hurting and dying world!.
HEAVEN AND EARTH WILL PASS AWAY…
But MY WORDS…My WORDS WILL NOT PASS AWAY!!