Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18
Be silent before the Lord GOD!
For the day of the LORD is at hand;
the LORD has prepared a sacrifice,
he has consecrated his guests.
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
and I will punish the people
who rest complacently on their dregs,
those who say in their hearts,
“The LORD will not do good,
nor will he do harm.”
Their wealth shall be plundered,
and their houses laid waste.
Though they build houses,
they shall not inhabit them;
though they plant vineyards,
they shall not drink wine from them.
The great day of the LORD is near,
near and hastening fast;
the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter,
the warrior cries aloud there.
That day will be a day of wrath,
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness,
a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
against the fortified cities
and against the lofty battlements.
I will bring such distress upon people
that they shall walk like the blind;
because they have sinned against the LORD,
their blood shall be poured out like dust,
and their flesh like dung.
Neither their silver nor their gold
will be able to save them
on the day of the LORD’s wrath;
in the fire of his passion
the whole earth shall be consumed;
for a full, a terrible end
he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
The Word of the Lord.
Lord, you have been our refuge
from one generation to another.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or the land and the earth were born,
from age to age you are God.
You turn us back to the dust and say,
“Turn back, O children of earth.”
For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past
and like a watch in the night;
you sweep them away like a dream,
they fade away suddenly like the grass:
in the morning it is green and flourishes;
in the evening it is dried up and withered.
For we are consumed by your anger;
we are afraid because of your wrath.
Our iniquities you have set before you,
and our secret sins in the light of your countenance.
When you are angry, all our days are gone;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The span of our life is seventy years, perhaps in strength even eighty;
yet the sum of them is but labor and sorrow, for they pass away quickly and we are gone.
Who regards the power of your wrath?
Who rightly fears your indignation?
So teach us to number our days
that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. Amen.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
The Word of the Lord.
[Jesus said to the disciples:] “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ”
The Gospel of our Lord.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I will admit to being a bit of an odd duck. I know plenty of folks find me a bit “quirky.” What with the yarn and the tree hugging and the Jesus talk. Plus the hippy-dippy diet and all of those God sightings and then there is all of the yarn. Sometimes it is like I am a visitor from another planet!
And frankly there are plenty of times I just don’t understand the world we are all living in. Seriously – I just don’t get it at all!
For instance – I just don’t get all of the meanness. I don’t understand saying or doing hurtful things to other people on purpose just because you can. Of course – I understand how it might happen by accident. But on purpose . . . that I don’t understand at all.
Seriously – my brain just cannot comprehend the mean – hurtful way some folks talk to and about each other. Often over and over and over again.
Because I am painfully – even shockingly un-cool or whatever the cool kids are calling themselves these days – I don’t do much social media. I just can’t keep up so I don’t even try. But I do hang out on Ravelry. Ravelry is a social media website for yarny people like me.
And before you start rolling your eyes too much – I will have you know there are over 9 million members. (Yes – you heard me correctly – there are 9 million members and growing every single day.)
Anyway – Ravelry is full of folks’ knitting projects. Some of the knitting projects are so magnificently beautiful they leave me in awe. And some knitters’ projects just plain leave me wondering why?!? Why would anyone spend hours and hours of their lives laboring away to make that?!?
(Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.)
Is that pastel pink – wild orange – glowing red – and intriguing shade of brown sweater with an upside down reindeer on it – my style? Not at all. Would I spend 80 precious hours of my life knitting it? No way.
But would I tell the knitter who is proudly modeling her new creation with a huge smile on her face that her sweater is ugly and she looks ridiculous wearing it? No – of course not! Never – never – never!
That would be incredibly unhelpful – hurtful and just plain mean. And yet some people do just that.
And this sort of behavior is not limited to knitting. It is everywhere. Absolutely – positively EVERYWHERE! But why? Why spread hurt? Why intentionally choose to be mean? Why would this be the way you opted to live in the world?
Why treat others as if they were less human than you are? Or feel less deeply than we ourselves do? Why spread more hurt and meanness in the world? Isn’t life hard enough without – us making it harder by being mean to each other?
In our second reading for today Saint Paul calls us to be very – very different kinds of people. First Paul calls us to be people of faith – hope – and love. And then Saint Paul declares we are all called to “encourage one another and to build each other up. . .”
Think about those words. Let those words really sink in. As Christians – as God’s followers in this world we are all called to “encourage one another and build each other up . . .”
These words sound so simple – but their message to us is far from simple. Their message is actually radical. Their message is wildly counter-cultural. Paul is telling us that we are called to be different. We are called to be encouragers and people who spread love and kindness. We are called to build one another up!
Saint Paul declares to us that ALL of the words that come from our mouths and from our finger tips should be loving words – encouraging words – words that lift people up and make the world a better – kinder – more loving place. Paul tells us we need to think before we speak. We need to be careful and thoughtful. We need to be loving and gentle and different. We are called to be God’s people in this world.
And not just our words – but our actions too. We are supposed to be encouragers – and helpers – and people who actively spread God’s love in this world. We are supposed to be looking for opportunities to help other people and to be kind and loving to one another.
We are called to build one another up. We are supposed to be busy doing this!
When I took my first call as a pastor – the church president sat me down early one Monday morning and informed me that “No news was good news.”
“Pastor Kerri” – John declared – “If you don’t hear us complaining about you – you can assume you are doing okay and we are happy with you and the job you are doing . . .”
“Okay – sounds great!” I replied and I sincerely meant it.
But really – that isn’t the way we should be – is it? (And no I am not digging for compliments!!! Seriously – not digging for compliments at all.)
We should all be actively encouraging one another. We should be busy building one another up. We should be speaking words of love and thanks and appreciation and encouragement to one another.
Our God calls us to be different. Our God calls us to be encouragers. Our God calls us to be loving and kind and helpful.
So share those compliments! Encourage one another. Thank each other. Say nice things. Send those cards and texts and emails that spread love and kindness and appreciation. Make those phone calls that share God’s love and your own.
Be different. Be loving. Be kind. Be encouragers! Be who your God has called you to be. Amen!