Yesterday, saw us at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Murrayfield in the green vestments for the last time this year, they won't be worn again until after the ned of Christmastide (2nd February) and then only for a couple of weeks before Lent starts!
The readings for yesterday were all apocalyptic in tone, looking forward to the coming of Christ again upon the earth. They could be seen as a bit gloomy and depressing but actually they were quite exciting and set us a few challenges to rise too. The first reading came form the prophet Daniel and was then followed by a piece from the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Gospel of Mark. Below is a part of my commentary on the Gospel and the questions I think it left us to ponder:
The temple in Jerusalem had great significance in the Jewish faith as it gave the Jews a home in which to worship. It was also the focus of all their hopes and desires as a nation. They longed for it during their exile and mourned its destruction. The Jews invested much in the physical temple.
The temple that Jesus talks about, however, is the second temple built following the Neo-Babylonian destruction of Solomon’s temple in 586 BC. The second temple lasted until 70 AD until the Romans destroyed it and until that time it became once again the focus of hope for the Jewish nation during their time in the wilderness and their oppression by invaders. It was very much the family home for the Jewish nation and as such a large part of their cultural identity.
Jesus rightly predicts the destruction of this second temple. It is all Hollywood blockbuster disaster movie stuff but what the Jews failed to get was that in Jesus Christ they have a new and living temple. No longer should bricks and mortar be their focus the person of Christ should be at the very centre of their worship, faith and hope for he alone can rescue them from their sins.
Jesus goes on to warn the disciples that many will appear and use his name in order to try and gain power but that they must constantly be on their guard in order to discern who is of God and who is not. For as Jesus says it is only the words and actions of the Christ that lead us to salvation.
The questions for us are:
Where do I focus my worship?
On Jesus alone, or do I get side tracked by other things as well?
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