As we come to the end of the liturgical year, the darker tone of the readings this week match well the international mood after the results of the presidential election in the US. The images are rich and evocative, and require us to unpack them a little. We begin with the image of the sun – both as instrument of punishment and source of healing at the day of the Lord. This should remind us that images will always limp somewhat – and we have to always use a range of images to get anywhere closer to the richness of our God.
Turning to the Gospel, once we begin to realise the shear scale and enormity of the temple compound in Jerusalem, we can begin to realise why the disciples from the Galilee country in the north of Israel were so overwhelmed by this beautiful wonder of the ancient world. Yet, even after predicting the destruction of the city and temple – an event that would unfold around 40 years later with the fall of Jerusalem by the Romans at the end of the first Jewish war of 67-70 CE – Jesus calls not just his disciples but all the people to keep trust and to not be afraid. He says that it is in these dark days of persecution and uncertainty when the church must step up and take the opportunity to bear witness to the power of God.
It is in this spirit that our parish will be embracing the Alpha program across 2017. I have spoken about Alpha a few times now, but let us spend a few minutes finding out more about what an amazing opportunity lies before us for the new year.
Recorded at St Paul’s (13mins 30)
Sunday 33, Year C. Luke 21:5-19; Malachi 3:19-20 / 4:1-2