Service for 6 November 2022

We thank the person who has prepared this service for us.

Prayer of Adoration and Confession
With praise we come before you, Almighty God
God who revealed himself to our forefathers with acts of power.
You are the God who leads nations through all the events of history.
You are the God who has brought deliverance when all seemed hopeless
You are the God who has worked miracles and for whom nothing is impossible
We praise your name, O God.

Call to worship – Psalm 17: 6-9 [NIV]
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of your great love,
you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes.
God who reveals himself in the glories of his creation.
We see your might and majesty in the wonders of the heavens
and the grandeur of the hills.
We see your wisdom and care in the beauty and wonder of all living things.
We see your love reflected wherever love and care
are shown in the world around us.
We praise your name, O God.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
from my mortal enemies who surround me.
God who reveals himself today through his holy Word and the moving of his Spirit
You teach us through the Bible and those you call to open its meaning to us
You show us your love in the life and death of your only Son Jesus, our Lord.
You fill us with power as your presence fills our lives,
showing yourself to others through us even as we know you near ourselves.
We praise your name, O God

Hymn StF 79 – I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath

Thanks be to God. Amen

Reading Thessalonians 2: 1-4 and 13-17 [NIV] Sermon
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we
ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the
teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by
letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone
deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and
the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will
oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped,
so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

We are coming to the end of the church (liturgical, not connexional!) year, which
will start anew with Advent Sunday. Traditionally, the liturgical year ends with
consideration of the end of this world and the Second Coming and what might
follow it. The Sunday before Advent itself is the celebration of Christ the King,
glorified in heaven for ever, before whom every knee shall bow. As next week is
Remembrance Sunday, today is a time to reflect on the end of time and the
readings we have for today point towards what might happen once life on this
world is over.
Many of us have lost loved ones in recent times, sometimes in distressing
circumstances when we could not properly say “goodbye” to them. At Christian
funeral services there are words of hope and comfort for those left to continue
this earthly life. We believe that our loved ones will be taken, not only to be
united with God but to be re-united with those they have loved in this world.
Even those who are not otherwise “religious” may still believe in some sort of
afterlife where they will meet with loved ones again, and I have been to a non-
Christian committal service where these sentiments were expressed.
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the
Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying
work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through
our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then,
brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to
you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his
grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts
and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
So we forget that the idea of the resurrection was not universal and indeed our
Gospel reading today makes this plain. My home church, Trinity, recently showed
a film in which an atheist tried to disprove the Resurrection of Jesus by logical and
scientific argument, but this only led to failure. The Sadducees tried a similar
argument in an attempt to make the general resurrection – or life after death –
look ridiculous and incompatible with the Jewish Law.

Luke 20: 27-38 [NIV]
Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a
question. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies
and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up
offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married
a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and
in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died
too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were
married to her?”
Doubtless the Sadducees did not realise it at the time as the genealogy of Christ
was worked out later (versions appear at the start of Matthew’s Gospel and in
Luke chapter 3, which would have been written several decades after Jesus’
death), but an example of the procedure they describe in verses 29-32 was part of
Jesus’ family history. You can read it for yourself in the book of Ruth, whom her
relative Boaz married to preserve the family name. He was the great-grandfather
of King David.
Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But
those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the
resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and
they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since
they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush,
even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham,
and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but
of the living, for to him all are alive.”

The point Jesus was making in response is that this purpose of marriage – to have
children and continue the human race – was no longer necessary after the
resurrection as there would be no more death. So, in this sense, the Sadducees
question was irrelevant.
But that is not the same as saying that relationships do not continue after the
resurrection. And Jesus uses the same tactic as the Sadducees – quoting ancient
scriptures – against them to make this point.

Jesus himself said that the time or date of his coming again could not be known
and warned his followers not to be led astray by those who claimed to know
otherwise. Paul picks up this theme in the passage we have today.So, as we have no way of knowing whether the Second Coming will happen
tomorrow, next week, next year, next century or next millennium or perhaps not
even for the millions of years until our sun dies and the earth becomes uninhabitable.

we are to continue living for this age – as Paul says in verses 16 and
17 as we have been given encouragement and hope for eternity so we should be
strengthened to do good deeds and speak good words. We do not know when
life will end, so we are called – and God will strengthen us – to live now as best we
can in God’s service and to the glory of his name.
The Sadducees are reminded of one of the “keystone” passages of the scriptures –
when God revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush. Why would God
declare himself the God of people who were dead, who no longer had any
relationship with him or ability to worship him? To God, Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob are still alive, accounted as “worthy” or “righteous” through their faith and
obedience, in the manner which Paul describes in Romans chapter 4, quoting also
from Genesis 15:6 “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as
I can never explore this theme without recalling a story from the founding of the
United States. It is said that in one of the new states, a debate was going on in
the government building. Unknown to those involved, forest fires far to the west
were sending clouds of smoke towards them, and these mixed with rain clouds to
produce an unexpected and frightening darkness.
Panic broke out in the legislature, and there were calls for the sitting to be
abandoned as the end of the world was at hand. Above the chaos, the voice of
one of the elder statesmen could be heard calling for order, and as the noise
subsided he spoke to the house.“Brothers”, he said; “either it is the Day of Judgement, or it is not. If it is not, then
we have nothing to fear. But if it is, then I desire that when my Lord comes he
will find me doing my duty. Let us have candles brought and proceed with our

So Jesus is arguing plainly that there will be a resurrection and that God’s children
will be raised to be with him for ever. And it is part of our church’s doctrine – and
included in those passages sometimes read at funerals – that we will be reunited
with each other as well, that relationships of love once known on this earth will
be known again in the world to come. There are many people of faith – and my
own mother was one of them – who can face the loss of their loved ones in the
knowledge that the time will come when they will be with them again.

But the Sadducees weren’t the only ones who had some wrong ideas about
resurrection and the end of this world. Many in the early church believed that
the Second Coming of Jesus would happen soon and, indeed, predictions about
the end of the world being at hand have been peddled through virtually all the
time since Christ – a time now several centuries longer than the interval from
Moses to Christ’s earthly life.
The words of that wise elder statesman were very much in the spirit of Paul’s
message to the Thessalonians and, like Paul, have something to say to those who
claim to know that the end of the world is at hand. It is not for us to know when,
we are only called to be ready in faith and in service.
But at the end we love and serve in the knowledge that our time here is not
wasted and our sacrifice of love and service is not in vain – any more than our
Lord’s was. We have hope that our faith and love will continue once our time
here is spent. We will be raised to live with God for ever, in companionship with
all the others God has saved in his love and mercy. Until that time comes, let us –
like the wise women with their lamps awaiting the bridegroom – be ready, doing
our duty until our Lord calls us to our eternal home.
Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians addressed some of these issues. The problem
there was that some in that church were so convinced that the Day of Judgement
was at hand that they had given up living for the present. Again, this time
through St Paul, the message had to be got across that the ideas some people had
about the end of this world were wrong.

We move on with a hymn that quotes words from Job, who suffered terribly even
though in the eyes of God he had done nothing wrong. In the verses which are
the set Old Testament reading for today – Job 19:23-27 – Job cries out of his
suffering for justice. Today we take his words as an echo of our Christian hope
and in this hymn take them to proclaim our own Redeemer – our Lord who means
for us the things which this hymn expresses, in this world and the next.

Loving God, who calls us to follow you and whose grace knows no limits, fill us
with your love that we might reflect your beauty in our lives. Empower us to be
your disciples by loving the unlovely, serving wholeheartedly and by proclaiming in
our words and actions all you mean to us. Fire us, we pray, with the life of your
Spirit and enable us to live in the light of your love. Amen

Hymn StF 303 – I know that my Redeemer lives

Prayers of Intercession
Creator God, we bring our prayers for the world you have made; a world of beauty
and wonder but a world under threat, marred by our abuse and misuse of your
gifts. Help us to discover ways in which we can work for good and for the earth’s
preservation, rather than its destruction…
Our spirits too shall quickly join, like theirs with glory crowned,
and shout to see our Captain’s sign, to hear his trumpet sound.
O that we now might grasp our Guide! O that the word were given!
Come, Lord of Hosts, the waves divide, and land us all in heaven.
Compassionate God, who reaches out from the cross to embrace all who are in
distress, we pray for those whose lives have been torn apart by war, natural
disaster, injustice and discrimination.
We hold before you all who mourn, all who fear for the future and all who are
marginalised by those who seek to exploit them…

Lord, send us out into the world you have created.
Send us out to the people and places you have placed us among.
May we rejoice in your world’s beauty and joy.
May we care for its sorrows and injury.
May we find you in everything you have made and everyone that you love.
May we, Lord, go out as your stewards and your blessing to the world…
Living God, who comes to us when all seems pointless, when we have toiled and
seen nothing for our labours, inspire us to take risks of faith to enable the coming
of your kingdom. We pray that all who are facing change and new challenges over
the coming months will be assured of your presence and guidance…
Faithful God, we thank you for those who lead us and serve us.
We thank you for our community here and lay before you now our friends with
their joys and sorrows…