Bible Sunday

Short Sermon for Bible Sunday, St James, Colwall, 26 October 2014

Col 3.12-17; Matt 24. 30-35

Jesus is quoted as saying that heaven and earth will pass away, but his words will not. We can be sure that our lectionary makers are aware of the context in which this statement is made. Here is a collection of Jesus’ sayings about the “end time”, a time when the Son of Man – Jesus’ oft used way of referring to himself – will appear in heaven, when all the tribes of the earth will mourn and then see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. That was one of Jesus’ sayings. And the next, the one about the fig tree, which followed on, is about indications of when that will happen.

I don’t know how you understand these things, and I don’t suppose there is only one right way to understand what Jesus was saying. What we would all have to agree upon – on the basis of Scripture – is that Jesus not only expected that God will vindicate him, but that God will call all of humanity to account. On this Bible Sunday, we are invited to consider this message from Scripture: God has promised that God’s will will finally be done, God’s rule will be established, God’s judgement will be given on all of humanity. Like any parent, God expresses love, wants to love; and, like any parent, will not stand by to see one child treat another cruelly or neglectfully. The Epistle to the Colossians illustrates what a loving godly community is like. God the parent tries to correct the wayward child, but children grow up and sometimes will not heed the loving messages of the parent, choosing instead to hurt and destroy.

The Bible can be understood as an account of that parent-child relationship. Jesus himself told a number of parables to this effect. As we reach the end of so-called Ordinary Time, we move through Bible Sunday into the period when we focus on God’s Kingdom and Advent. Let us do that with joy and thankfulness knowing that we live under the judgement of a loving parent who seeks to guide and support us.