Welcome to this blog post for Sunday service of Digby Baptist Church. The bulletin on the website has more information for you. By Sunday afternoon, video from the service is added to this page here – the children’s time and the sermon.
PRAYERS of the People: Holy God of time and space, in our corner of the world, from our vantage point of history, we focus upon You in prayer. We offer this worship together, a gift of love to You, our Saviour. We make offerings of practical support to our congregation, and to our local food bank, in Your name. We listen for Your voice to us today, and we come close for communion at Your table.
Our fellowship feels broken with the loss of Mary – yet we have such amazing hope from You, who conquered sin and death. Bless Alfie, Mike & Robbie and family in this loss, and with the eternal hopes that are ours in Christ Jesus.
And in our fellowship we pray for help and healing, guidance and grace, for all who need a blessing today.
Alpha and Omega, there is no beginning or end to your love, mercy, and grace. You encompass all that was, all that is, and all that will be. Therefore, we uplift in our prayers all those challenges, conflicts, and ruptures that seem to be beyond repair or reconciliation:
We pray for your children in North and South Korea as leaders within both countries have articulated a commitment to improve diplomatic ties and rebuild trust.
We pray for your children in China as the government is expanding its nuclear capabilities with the construction of a second field of missile silos in its western deserts.
We pray for your children in the Tigray, Ethiopia as conflict between the central government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front has begun to spread to other parts of northern Ethiopia, and attacks continue against Eritrean refugees in the region.
We pray for your children in Afghanistan as there have been escalating attacks on civilians as Taliban insurgents have recently captured more areas and seized vital border control points.
The wars and rumours of wars continue, Christ, as You said they would. In this world, let there be hope, and let it begin with us. Open Your word to us now, that we may be changed. AMEN.
Revelation 1:1-8; John 14:1-7
Remember the turn of the Century? We can call it the turn of the Millennium, eh? I remember it. I lived in a small fishing village and tourist town in Nova Scotia. In 1999 there was all this talk of Y2K, which means Year Two Thousand. The computers were all going to crash, and everything might fail! Remember all that hype?
A friend gave me lots of advance warning with the gift of this book, “Apocalypse WOW!’ by James F. Garner. He asked and answered many an important question about the end of the world. “Will we remember to order new checks from the bank? Did our invitation to the Kennedy New Year’s party get lost in the mail again? And are we all poised on the brink of worldwide enlightenment or complete planetary destruction?”
Many times, the end of the world has been predicted or expected or feared. Remember 2012? Some ancient Mayan calendar in stone apparently ended with what we call the year 2012. Perhaps that was to be ‘the apocalypse.’ No. Watch the film, “2012,” to see what did not happen.
This month I want to explore “The Apocalypse” and the associated ideas and doctrines of the End of the age, the second coming of Christ, and so forth. Today is our introduction, and I want to hear from you what questions you have about all this. My first ‘answer’ is to say what ‘apocalypse’ means. It is in the Greek New Testament, and does not mean The End, or the destruction of the world. It simply means an unveiling, a revealing of something. This last book of the Bible gets its name from this word. The first words of the first verse are “The revelation of Jesus Christ…” The apocalypse of Jesus Christ. Often in the New Testament, when we read ‘reveal’ it is the verb apocalypto. As when Peter declared to Jesus: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed (apocalypto) this to you, but my Father in heaven.” (Mtt 16:17)
So, let’s begin our ‘August Apocalypse,’ our revealing.
One Bible teacher on this, Rick Durst, of Golden Gate Baptist Seminary, prepared a little metre to measure people’s interest in ‘Last Things.’
Fear of Future Fascination with Future
How have you felt about these things?
In our day and age of fear, I do not want you to fear the end, the second coming, or the final judgment. I do not want any believer to be confused or easily be led astray into some strange teachings. And I do not want anyone to be obsessed with the end times either. We can make sense of all this. Our God has these teachings for us to give us hope, not horror.
So… what things about The End might you want explained or explored? Let me take note…
Perhaps, each week, we will read a bit from the Revelation of John. But there are other texts – in New and Old Testaments – we will read and ponder. Today, those first verses of the book of Revelation hint at some of the major themes to be found in its pages.
It is a ‘revelation, a ‘revealing,’ an ‘apocalypse.’
It seems to speak of the future, ‘what will soon take place.’
It includes words of prophecy… whatever that means.
It is very much about God and Jesus, who are given many special names and titles, just beginning with ‘the Faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead, the Ruler of the kings of the earth.’
There are a lot of worship words in this text, such as in verse six, ‘to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.’ We sang quite a few Revelation lyrics ourselves, today, and we will again, in the weeks ahead.
Also, about Jesus, Revelation speaks much about the return of Christ. Whatever this means! ‘Look, he is coming with the clouds; every eye shall see him…’
The teachings about The End are found in many books of the Bible, and we will touch some of them, as needed. Such as Jesus’ own words in the Gospels. I wonder, before His death, when Jesus said to the disciples, ‘I go to prepare a place for you,’ and, ‘I will come again,’ did He mean come back alive on the third day, or come back to earth a second time, later on?
I also want to explore a variety of common ways that Christians have come to understand all these teachings. There are quite a few approaches. I have been studying all this lately, seeking to make up my own mind and figure out what I actually believe. Perhaps, by the end of August, we will all have a bit more figured out, guided by the Holy Spirit and these scriptures.
On the next four Sundays of August, I have this basic plan in mind:
8th – The Second Advent of Christ (second coming)
What will Jesus do? When? How?
How to be ready?
15th – Resurrection, Rapture & Tribulation
Also: the Millennium
22nd – The Final Judgment
How, exactly, will we (and others) be judged?
29th – ‘The End of the World,’ New Heavens & Earth
It all seems so destructive and violent. Is it?
I’m also curious what you may think about these things:
Do you wonder about the purpose or usefulness of some apocalyptic stories/scriptures? Doctrines?
What ones, and why?
What areas would you like addressed on Sundays?
What do you not want to hear about? 😮
Let me have the last word today by saying what I was told is the actual theme of Revelation, summed up in one verse. The theme is found in chapter 11 verse 15. The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.
God wins, we might say. And we get brought in to win with Christ. Good news! Though we could say it more beautifully, and profoundly, as the scriptures do.
Those Revelation 11:15 phrases are well-known, in the lyrics of the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from Handel’s Messiah.
Let’s listen to one recording of it, from a Canadian scene – a flash mob that happened a decade ago. I enjoy this video a great deal. Listen for all the words of this famous chorus. This could be what all the doctrines of The End should sound like, when summed up. Not a song of fear and terror, but of joyful praise!
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth
The kingdom of this world is become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ
and he shall reign forever and ever.
King of kings and Lord of lords
and he shall reign forever and ever