Thoughts from the Porch
Looking Back and Looking Forward, Written by Lucy Austin
An interesting time. November. The clocks have gone back. We have just passed the day when there are 15 hours of dark and only 9 hours of daytime. Lots of time for looking back. And for looking forward.
In the Church, the month of November has developed into a Month of Remembrance. The liturgical colour is red for martyrs. We have celebrated All Saints Day, and All Souls. Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day on the 11th of November. Advent Sunday falls at the end of November. The Church Calendar designates the four Sundays before Advent Sunday as a time of looking to the Kingdom of God.
So I find it particularly appropriate, and challenging, to take this time to look back and to look forward. As we think of those who died in battle, remembering their sacrifice for their country, we think too of the Saints who died for of the Kingdom of God. We look back through the ages at all who have given their lives for great causes. In our country, in other countries in the world. And those who have died in this world, for the sake of a different one.
The prophets Amos, Micah and Zephaniah all speak of the Day of the Lord. Dire warnings they give. And those warnings were proven true in the desolation of Jerusalem. The exile of God’s chosen people. Far from being a joyful event, the prophets emphasised the element of judgement in the coming of the King. We can look back at that historical time. We can also look back at our own personal times of exile and rebellion towards God. The New Testament lessons for these Sundays before Advent give us hope and encouragement to look forward. “Encourage one another,” Paul says, “as you are already doing.” He also exhorts us to vigilance. Active preparation is required for the coming of our Lord.
The parables in Matthew 25 follow directly on from Jesus’ urgent call to be ready for the coming of God’s Kingdom.
Advent – announcing the coming of Christ. Our God is coming with the joy of salvation, but also the judgement of his holiness. The return of the Master, the King.
Christmas – the joy and thanksgiving. In the parable of the talents we hear: “enter into the joy of your master.”
There is urgency in all the readings about how we live as the people of God. The point is here is not just about whether we use the talents (resources) we have been given or not.
It’s about what we use them for. If we use our talents well, but only for our own benefit, we have failed to be ready. We are not prepared to participate in the coming of the Kingdom. But, if we use our talents for the purpose for which they were given – for the blessing and up-liftment of others – we have shown ourselves to be part of God’s mission.
Whether it’s our time, our friendship, our expertise, our compassion, our material resources, or our solidarity, we all have something to contribute that can bless and uplift those around us. It is our actions, not our words or even our dreams, that reveal the truest hopes and desires of our hearts. And, if we claim to hope for something, but do nothing to move toward it, we are only deceiving ourselves and our so-called hopes are really just a fantasy. Do we have hope in the coming of our Master? Do we believe in the power of that hope to sustain and strengthen us through the best and worst of times?
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
If that hope is real, it must be seen in how we live. If we really believe in the Kingdom, then that must filter through every thought, attitude, word, action and interaction. As we look back can we see this in our lives? As we look forward, what do we see?
Do we truly look for the life of the world to come?
Much love & many blessings,