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We always have hope

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Theme: We always have hope

Let us pray.

Most holy, Lord God, there are many travails that happen to us as we go through this life; be with us in our ups and downs, reminding us that you will be with us always and you will make things right, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

One thing you notice about apartment buildings in Paris is that the first floor has some kind of business, usually a restaurant or café. Paris obviously doesn’t have the same kind of building codes that we have. Oftentimes an awning goes out from the building over the sidewalk.

At one such café, the owner usually closes the awning in the afternoon because the people who live above will throw their cigarette butts on the street below, potentially setting the awning on fire. Well, the café owner didn’t want that. So, he would close it. I’m not sure how the pedestrians dealt with the butts.

On All Saints’ Day, November 1st, this month, two girls played on a seventh floor apartment above this café. One was four years old. The other was 15 months old. Their parents went for a stroll.

It just so happened that the café owner did not close the awning that day. The 15 month old girl somehow fell out of the balcony to the street below.

This was witnessed by a young man, who alerted his father. The father raced over to the café with his arms outstretched to catch the infant. The baby hit the awning. She bounced off the awning and into the arms of the passerby.

“The man with the quick reflexes and good hands, a doctor, looked over the girl and didn’t find any injuries, but handed her off to an ambulance crew to be safe, according to Le Parisien . ‘My son saw a little baby on a balcony. The baby had gone right outside the railing... I said to myself I mustn’t miss the baby,’ the toddler’s savior, local doctor Philippe Bensignor, said recounting (the) drama. ‘I had time to move from side to side to get in the right position,’ he added. ‘The little baby was fine and cried a little bit but calmed down.’” (The Times of India)

AFP – A view of the building from which an 18 month-old child fell from the 7th floor the day before, bouncing …

By Vicky Buffery – Tue Nov 2, 9:48 am ET

A witness told the newspaper Le Parisien, “He must have played rugby for years to have developed reflexes like that.”

Police reported that the baby had no apparent injuries, but she was taken to a nearby hospital for observation. The police also said, “The parents were absent, and it’s a bit difficult questioning the two girls, given their age.” (Except they probably said that in French.) The parents were found and detained for questioning.

It’s funny how the internet works. I was looking for a follow up to see how the baby was. But most of the search entries were blogs that repeated the wire story. Also, the baby’s age and floor she fell from changed in repeating the story.

There are times when bad things happen, we find hope. For the Christian, no matter how bad things get, there is always hope. We will be with Jesus in this life and the next. This is what Jesus was talking about at the temple in Luke.

In last week’s gospel reading, Jesus was nearing the end of his journey to Jerusalem and his arrest and execution. This week Jesus is not only in Jerusalem, he is teaching in the temple. Again, when the Bible refers to someone in the temple, it means the temple grounds, because only priests are allowed in the temple.

While Jesus is teaching, people come and go. Luke is not specific as to which day of the week it is. Jesus had previously turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple. I would imagine people and especially the religious officials are watching him very closely. Since his table turning activities may have looked like a riot, the Roman soldiers are also probably watching him, since their fortress is right next to the temple grounds.

Some unnamed people are commenting on the grandeur of the temple: its stonework and its memorial gifts. It is as if Jesus cannot contain being silent and is compelled to comment.

“You think this all is grand and beautiful? It means nothing. All of this will be torn down and be nothing but a heap of rubble.” The people who heard this know something about heaps of rubble. Heaps of rubble gets recycled. Why waste nicely hewn stones? Just take them and build something somewhere else. The stones of the temple are probably all around Jerusalem today. They’re just not at the temple mount. The people ask for signs.

These are very important questions for them. The last time, for them, that the temple was destroyed was about five centuries earlier and it was horrible. It was when Jerusalem was also destroyed and the people taken into exile by the Babylonians. It happened once and it seems the people believe it will happen again.

The last time the temple was destroyed, people didn’t believe it would happen. God dwells in the temple building. It is impossible that God would allow the temple to be destroyed. The prophet Jeremiah told them it would happen and so Jeremiah ended at the bottom of a dry well for opening his mouth. This time people take note when Jesus says the temple will be destroyed. Jesus tells them what to watch out for.

A common comic strip motif is someone declaring the end of the world. It gets used over and over again because there always seems to be somebody declaring that the end of the world is near. There is guy in the Bay Area who had (and may still have) a cable TV program reminding people that the Book of Revelation is predicting the immanent end of the world any day. He’s been saying this for years and years. I think that Revelation is the only book of the Bible he has read. If he lives long enough, he could end up being right.

But now we have before us Jesus’ prediction of the end of the temple. Please note: Jesus is talking about the destruction of the temple and to read anything more into this would be distorting Jesus’ words. What Jesus is saying is to give warning and preparation for his disciples.

Jesus wants them to know that things will get bad when:

• People claiming to be Jesus proclaim the end of time. They are imposters.

• When you hear of wars and riots, forget about it. There will be many wars.

• There will be earthquakes, famine, and terrible things.

• You will be arrested and thrown into jail. This will give you an opportunity to share your faith. Don’t worry about what you will say. You will be divinely inspired.

• You will be betrayed by your family.

• Some of you will be killed.

• Because of Jesus, everyone will hate you.

But don’t worry, for you will be saved. Take a long-term view.

I can just imagine the disciples getting together that night to decide whether they made a mistake following Jesus. The future doesn’t look to rosy. Everyone’s going to hate us?

After Jesus’ resurrection, many of them were killed. Almost all of them were arrested. There were no big wars, because of the pax Romana. But then a group of Jews raised an army to overthrow the Romans. It was a weak time for the empire. Putting down the revolt was not easy for the Romans. That probably made them angrier.

In 70 AD, they broke into Jerusalem and turned the temple into rubble. Judaism lost its special protection in the Roman Empire, which meant that Christianity could no longer use Judaism for religious protection. They thought, if the Romans could do this to the Jews, what might they do to Christians? In spite of this potential great fear, Christians maintained hope. We are a people of hope. There is even hope for a baby falling seven floors below. Jesus lays out a lot of bad things, scary things. But he ends with a mention of hope. Secular authorities have no control over heaven. Being faithful to Jesus has great rewards.

We now pray: Gracious God and giver of all good gifts, may we never lose hope; instill in us a faith that will carry us through this life and into the next, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[Reuters also contributed to this sermon.]

Text: Luke 21:5–19 (NRSV)

5 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6 “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.”

7 They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 8 And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’a and, ‘The time is near!’b Do not go after them.

9 “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.” 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11 there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

12 “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. 13 This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15 for I will give you wordsc and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your souls.

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