Introductions to the Readings
for the twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Both readings this morning invite listeners to live into the hope and trust of God’s abiding presence, especially in the times of trial and tumult.
Listen again to these familiar words offered to an audience of displaced people returning home to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon approximately 2600 years ago.
Reading from the third and last portion of the book of Isaiah found at chapter sixty five, verses 17-25
God shall create joy and delight; the wolf and the lamb shall lie down together
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth:
the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people;
No more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
Or the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days,
Or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
For one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
And one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
They shall not plant and another eat;
For like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain,
or bear children for calamity;
For they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord-
And their descendants as well.
Before they call I will answer,
While they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
The lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent-its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.
In response to Isaiah’s hope-filled vision, we sing together:
VU166: Joy Comes with the Dawn
The good news this morning comes to us once again from the gospel according to Luke.
Speaking to those gathered on the site of the temple at Jerusalem, Jesus’ words refer back to its destruction thought to have occurred some 15 years prior to this ‘prediction’.
Moving on from there, the reading provides all who have ears to listen with an ‘end times’ scenario or apocalyptic vision.
Though perhaps strange and dire sounding to our ears, such apocalyptic language was commonly heard.
A focus on the end of the age would be a sign of hope for those early listeners so desperately longing for his Jesus’ return in the aftermath of his death on the cross some 40 years earlier.
That said, what word of hope or encouragement might we find in the reading as it connects with the end of an era in our own time here in our postmodern context?
A reading from the gospel according to Luke 21: verses 5-19
Persecution in the days to come, trust God!
When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said: “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”
They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?”
And he said: “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.
“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.
This will give you an opportunity to testify.
So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give your words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.
You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers by relatives and friends; and thy will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name.
But not a hair of your head will perish.
By your endurance will you gain your souls.
Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Thanks be to God.