PASTOR BRAD'S PAGE
Pentecost 23C, November 13, 2022
New Covenant, Luke 21:5-19
“And the Walls Came Tumbling Down”
Most of the year, I tend to follow what’s known as the lectionary. It’s a 3 year cycle of scripture readings for worship that coincide with the special holy days and the seasons of the church year. One of the reasons that I like using the lectionary is that it challenges me to study and preach on passages I may wanna ignore. Like today’s gospel lesson.
While the disciples are admiring the beauty and grandeur of the temple, Jesus announces, “Take a good look. One day, these walls will come tumbling down and it’ll all be a pile of rubble.” Immediately, the disciples ask, “When will this happen?”
Jesus’ words sound a lot like the evening news; wars, violence, natural disasters. Throughout history people have said, “This is the time.” Many still use this passage to try and predict when the end times will occur. But the reality is, this has already happened. The answer to the disciples’ question is the year 70. In the year 70, the Romans squashed an uprising. They destroyed the city of Jerusalem and leveled the temple. The first readers of Luke’s gospel know exactly when the temple will become a pile of rubble. It’ll happen in the year 70, one thousand, nine hundred and fifty two years ago.
Much of our focus when reading this passage gravitates to all of the endings; the end of the temple as a place of worship, the end of family relationships, and the ending of peace between nations. But if our focus is always on the endings, we may miss Jesus’ assurances of God’s faithfulness in difficult times. Trust in God during difficult times, remain hopeful, God is present even when the world seems to be falling apart, Jesus asserts.
The challenges, the trials we face are opportunities for us to testify. They are opportunities to share God’s faithfulness during our struggles. “Don’t be terrified,” Jesus says. “I’ll give you the words and wisdom you need,” Jesus assures us. “Not a hair on your head will perish,” Jesus asserts. “Your endurance will lead to life,” Jesus promises. Jesus reminds us that there will be trials, sufferings, wars and natural disasters, but he closes saying, “If you endure, if you persevere, if you stand firm, your endurance will lead to life.” Jesus tells his followers; when the going gets tough, don’t give up, don’t be terrified. When it seems like the world is crumbling around you, when everything feels like it’s falling apart, no matter how bad things seem, no matter how difficult things get, remain hopeful and keep testifying to others about me. Don’t be led astray, don’t be distracted from your mission, don’t be afraid, don’t give up, continue to testify, I am with you. I’ll give you the words and wisdom you need.
While walls may tumble and buildings may crumble, Jesus promises that not a hair on our heads will perish and our endurance will lead to life. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Rev. Bradley A. Walmer,
a 2008 graduate of Lancaster Theological Seminary, where he received his Master of Divinity degree and was awarded the 2008 Rev. Delores Berry prize for preaching. He was ordained into Christian ministry by the Lebanon Association of the Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ on June 1, 2008. Prior to beginning his pastorate here at New Covenant on August 1, 2015, he served as the pastor of St. Paul’s Summer Hill UCC in Auburn, Pa (located southeast of Pottsville, PA).
Pastor Brad and his wife Michelle were born and raised in Lebanon County and now reside in the area with their dog, Barkley.