So two weeks ago in our reading from the letter to the Galatian Church we explored how Paul exhorted the followers of Jesus in Galatia to take seriously the freedom that Christ had won for them and the Spirit had gifted to them: freedom from the guardianship of the Law, that had existed to protect and guide God’s people until the day that they were set free to live according to the freedom of the Spirit – the freedom in which, he gloriously declared, releases us from those shackles of male or female, Jew or Gentile, slave or free.
One of the great temptations for the preacher, I believe, is to always choose to preach on the bits of the Bible that you are most comfortable with, that you find clearly and easily conforming to the overall narrative of the scriptures as you understand it.
Last Sunday, of course, was Pentecost. But you might have noticed that our readings left out perhaps the most famous part of the Pentecost story – the Spirit descending on the disciples like tongues of fire, and the miracle of language that followed, as everyone heard them proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ in their own language.
Acts 2:14-21 | Romans 8:14-17
The disciples had been told to go back to Jerusalem and wait; promised that they would receive power from heaven, that they would be Jesus’ witnesses throughout Israel, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
So we come to the last week of our series on “Hope from the last book”, our reflections on the message of hope that the book of Revelation, though it was written for another people in another time, carries for us in modern day Australia.
The old saying goes that there are only two certainties in life – death, and taxes (although it does sometimes seem that some of our ultra-wealthy individuals and companies are working quite hard, and with some success, to eliminate the latter).
John 21:9-17 | Revelation 5:11-14
So here we come to the heart of the matter. The basis upon which we find our hope lies here at the very centre of all things, in the throne room of God.
Isaiah 6:1-3 | Revelation 4:2-8
Just to note – those of you who follow along with the lectionary may have noticed that this week’s reading doesn’t match up – in order to make a five week series of readings cover the six weeks between Easter and Pentecost we’ve added this passage, and for the next few weeks we’ll be sort of running one week behind.
If you made a list of topics that preachers would really rather not be asked to preach on, I’m guessing that the book of Revelation would be up quite near the top.
The fact that you are here this morning tells me that I don’t need to start at the beginning. I don’t need to tell you that Easter isn’t about chocolate eggs, or magic bunnies. I don’t need to convince you that it’s more than a convenient and very welcome four day weekend.
Today we come to the end of our Lenten series on courage with the story of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet.
It’s a strange little parable we have today. The fate of a fig-tree appears to hang in the balance.