First Lesson: Isaiah 65: 17-25
Responsive Reading: Psalm 98
Second Lesson: 2 Thessalonians 3: 6-13
Gospel Lesson: Luke 21: 5-19
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
In 1912, a ship named the RMS Titanic began its maiden voyage. The Titanic was the largest ship of its day. The Titanic was nearly three football field long, one-hundred feet tall and ninety feet wide. The Titanic was capable of carrying over thirty-five hundred people. It possessed a staircase that ascended four stories. The Titanic was able to sail faster than any other ship in its day. The Titanic cost $7.5 million dollars to build which Today would cost nearly half a billion dollars. When the Titanic set out for sail, passengers, crew members, and the ship’s designers believed the Titanic to be unsinkable. The maiden voyage set off with some of the wealthiest people in the world in its day as passengers. We know how the maiden voyage turned out.
11:40 PM on April 14, 1912, the Titanic strikes an iceberg, by 2:20 AM the world’s most indestructible ship plunges to into the ocean and over fifteen-hundred people perish along with the ship. The unthinkable had happened. People were left searching for answers in the aftermath.
The story of the Titanic leads us to a similar event that took place in the life of some of Jesus’ earliest followers. 70 AD: The greatest structure that Jesus’ followers had ever seen in their life would fall to the ground. The destruction was so thorough that the marvelous structure transforms into merely a pile of rubber. Today’s Gospel Lesson from Luke 21 begins to tell this story.
Jesus’ disciples had been bragging up in his presence what they thought to be the most impressive structure they had even seen in The Second Temple or Herod’s Temple. Here are three things to know about Herod’s Temple.
So what does Jesus say in the wake of the Disciples bragging up the Temple.
“As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”- Luke 21:6.
Our Gospel lesson has Jesus predicting the most inconceivable of outcomes with the Temple collapsing. Jesus’ prediction throws the Disciples for a loop. They ask Jesus “So this must mean the world is ending when the mighty Temple collapses?”
Jesus instead is making another point here today rather than predicting the end of the world; Jesus is instead imploring believers how they should respond to the most challenge circumstances within their lives.
Two major events have occurred in the past two weeks. Last week, The Chicago Cubs won the World Series after a one-hundred and eight-year drought.
You see many people believed the Cubs to be cursed because, in 1945, a Cubs fan named William Sianis was bringing his pet goat to the World Series. Sianis’ goat’s smell was bothering other people and was asked to leave. Sianis got so mad at the Cubs he supposedly placed a curse upon them that they would never play in the World Series ever again. While a billy goat curse would seem crazy at a time, it would take 71 years to disprove the curse. What this story highlights is something important that natural human instinct is to rush to judgment. It’s easy to assign the Cubs blame to a fictional curse rather than mismanagement or bad luck. When you believe something to be cursed, you’re unable to see in disappointing situations any sort of hope.
The second big event took place on Tuesday during our election. People were claiming the world to be ending or the world in the process of being made whole once again.
The reality of the election though was best summed up by Karoline Lewis who said: “The World will still be broken regardless of the outcome of any election.”
I think events like elections while important shouldn’t lead us to apocalypticism. We shouldn’t go around proclaiming the sky is going to fall at any moment as people of faith.
People of faith have been interpreting their circumstances to predict the end is near for 2000 years. Everyone of these predictions has been wrong. What people often claim to be the end, merely points people to God’s role in human history.
Jesus knew that his followers were going to witness history changing moments in their lifetime. One of these moments was going to be The Temple collapsing at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD. Jesus uses the Temple, as an illustration, to drive home the point that such events were not the end but rather merely a struggle of human life that all of his followers would experience.
Let me tell a story this morning that serves as a mini-confession. One time, when I was living in Fargo after college, I got a speeding ticket in Moorhead. I hardly had a cent to my name at the time. So I did what any irresponsible young adult would do and didn’t pay the ticket. A couple of months had passed when I get a letter from the Minnesota DMV saying my failure to pay was going to get my license taken away for 30 days. The following was a situation that required immediate action in a trip down to the DMV office in Saint Paul with a check immediately in hand then needing to beg for mercy from the official on duty. There’s a difference in life though between situations like this that require immediate action and the world ending. If I had lost my driver’s license, it would have been a problem, yet life would have eventually gone on.
Now let’s look at the most extreme situations of life. In our lesson for today, Jesus paints a scary picture for the lives of believers. The picture he paints is more terrifying that anyone we know is likely to experience. His followers would be arrested, they would be persecuted, and some would even be executed. They would be left searching for answers in these trials of life.
Hillary Scott is the lead singer of a very popular Country music band Lady Antebellum. Hillary Scott awhile back had received what she thought was the best news in the world “She was soon going to give birth to her second child.”
Fall of 2015, Scott finds out that she had suffered a miscarriage. She is heartbroken. Thoughts of the loss overwhelm her day after day. She wonders like anyone would “Why God Why?”. As Scott kept reflecting upon the loss, she kept hearing, again and again, the famous passage in the Lord’s Prayer “Thy Will be done.” Scott’s reflection eventually found meaning in the loss in that it caused her to become a different mom to her other daughter to ultimately hug her tighter.
As you hear stories like Hillary Scott’s, you can’t help but think of the words from Romans 8.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”- Romans 8:28
What Jesus is seeking to proclaim to the Disciples today is that meaning can be found in even the darkest moments of one’s life.
Let me close with the following story from the Titanic. John Harper became a preacher at the age of 17. Harper soon starts a mission church, gets married, has a daughter named “Nana,” and becomes a widow. John Harper and Nana board the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Harper immediately after striking the “iceberg” recognizes that the ship is going down. Harper rushes Nana to a lifeboat. While Harper could have easily gotten on with Nana, he merely kisses her and says “I will see you again someday.”
Harper begins trying to gather other woman and children to safety upon lifeboats. Due to a shortage of lifeboats, many people including John Harper were thrown overboard as the ship began plunging into the ocean. Harper doesn’t seek out safety, though; Harper keeps swimming to person after person preaching salvation to everyone that he encountered.
John Harper encountered one man who didn’t possess a life jacket; Harper tosses him his jacket hoping to give him a few more minutes of life. Harper swims away only to come back later and preach the Gospel. Finally, a lifeboat comes and saves this young man. John Harper kept swimming and swimming that night preaching and preaching, his body though finally gave out in the frigid Atlantic waters and his last recorded words were “Believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”
Four years later, The following young man to whom Harper gave his life jacket would stand before a Titanic survivors meeting proclaiming that on the night the mighty ship went under that John Harper gave him life not only in this world, but also the world that is to come.
Here’s something really interesting though about John Harper’s story. Nearly three times prior in his life had he almost drowned, each and every one of these times though he survived. John Harper nearly saw his world end on numerous occasions, yet he kept preserving and kept clinging to hope.
Here’s the point that Jesus was making to the Disciples and John Harper’s story tells us. There will be times when you feel the world around you might be ending. There will be times when you feel yourself cursed and feel tempted to abandon all hope. There will be times when you might struggle with finding God’s will in the trying circumstances. The world will not end on other people’s terms. The world will not end through destruction at the hands of any government. The world will only end when Christ Jesus stands before us. When Christ Jesus declares in the face of your adversaries “But not a hair of your head will perish.” Our world will not end with horror and destruction, but our world will only end with hope and resurrection. Amen
 Pratte, David. E. “Lessons from the Titanic”. Gospel Way. 1999. Web. Nov.7.2016.
 Luke 21:5-19.
 Sommerville, Jim. “ Twenty Six-Sunday After Pentecost.” A Sermon for Every Sunday. 13.Nov.2016. Web. Nov.7.2016.
 “The Curse of the Billy Goat.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation.8.Nov.2016. Web. Nov.8.2016.
 Lewis, Karoline. “Saying What We See.” Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. Saint Paul, MN. 6.Nov.2016. Web. Nov.7.2016.
 Ruiz, Gilbert. “Commentary on Luke 21:5-19.” Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. Saint Paul, MN. 6.Nov.2016. Web. Nov.7.2016.
 Whitaker, Sterling. “Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott Reveals Miscarriage Heartbreak Inspired ‘Thy Will’. “ Taste of Country. 20.Jun.2016. Web. Nov.8.2016.
 Whitaker, Sterling. “Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott Reveals Miscarriage Heartbreak Inspired ‘Thy Will’
 Romans 8:28.
 Young, Tina H.. “A True Story of the Titanic.” Stanford University NCBC College Ministry. 2000. Web. Nov.7.2016. Young bases her article on a 1997 article from Moody Press titled “The Titanic’s Last Action Hero.”
 Acts 16:31
 Young, Tina. H. “A True Story of the Titanic.”
 Luke 21:18.