Psalm 90 Isaiah 38:10 ff Revelation 1:9 ff John 5:24 ff
May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
When I listen to Isaiah today I get two separate pictures. The first is of despair, his life is ended, it’s over, done, there is nothing to look forward to indeed he is left with bitterness. And that is how life and impending death can make us feel. We are probably suffering physical pain and definitely emotional stress as we go into the great unknown, leaving everything familiar and loved behind, for what ? Who knows ? The Psalm has the same feeling, despair and loss, that time just flows on regardless of us and all the heartache we suffer. And to make it worse God piles anger on us. It’s like Moses and Isaiah both got up on a lousy day, when it was raining overcast and drearily cold, they were feeling their age and the creaky joints that accompany it.
John in the Book of Revelation written, as he says, in the tribulation, that is the persecution by Rome and imprisoned on the isle of Patmos also gives us the darker side of life. The book he writes is to be sent to seven churches in Asia Minor. Things seem to be going downhill for all except one of them. The church in Ephesus is intolerant and has forgotten how to love. The church in Pergamos has allowed the impurities of other faiths to infiltrate its life. The church in Thyatira is being misled by its own leaders. The church in Sardis is full of good works but they are dead in spirit. The church in Philadelphia is being split apart by those who claim misplaced authority. The church in Laodicea is lukewarm going through the motions without spirit. All of these have the semblance of a church but they are really not. It would appear to me that many of the same complaints can be made about churches today. I hope we can dig deep and save ourselves from such diseases. The only church of the seven of merit is in Smyrna it is a church rich in Faith, and that is what will carry it through.
And Faith is the only thing that will carry today’s churches through. And Faith is the only thing that will carry us through life with all its ups and downs, especially the death or severe illness of a loved one, or ourselves.
Isaiah and Moses men of great Faith understood that long before John wrote the Book of Revelation and I hope we can understand that too, now long after its writing. As John says repeatedly at the end of each letter to those ancient churches “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches”. All is not lost,Isaiah and Moses at the end of their readings today know they have been saved through the love of God, they are no longer doomed, nor are we, nor are our family members and friends who rest here, when Faith is present.
And Jesus in the Gospel nails that home. Faith in God is essential, it is the lifeline for all of us when we leave this world, with Faith we will not be condemned at the Judgement Seat. Having Faith has a correlation to the way we live. If we live a faithful life doing good we will be rewarded with eternal life. But we know that doing only good is not possible for us, we are human, we do not have divine perfection, so we are doomed to fail but that gets us into the territory where Isaiah and Moses started off. Where do we get redemption then ? Where did they ? Same place as us by faith in God’s Love and Mercy ?
God knows what it is to be human and that as we were created a little lower than the angels we have some imperfections. God knows that and accepts that. We experience that in our own relationships a lot; once the glister has worn off the newly-minted husband or wife or child the imperfections start to show; this happens with our parents too. We adore them when we first become aware of them. Then the lustre starts to fade. We see their weaknesses but we still love them for who they are and what they have done for us, the bits of good they did are still counted by God. The seven churches in Asia Minor were all doing some good and it was accounted to them in the scales of God’s justice, likewise for us. Good is not forgotten, nor is Sin but unlike Sin you don’t have to confess Good, nor should you, it attaches itself too you and becomes something like a floatation device it lifts you up. You don’t have to inflate good works out of proportion for them to do their job. Sin on the other hand is a different matter altogether. It attaches itself to us too. It’s like having your feet cast into a block of concrete, you can’t run, it will drag you down, you will sink in despair, that is to the Resurrection to Damnation. But there is a remedy – Confession and Repentance. They cut through the concrete and it falls away no longer to impede you on your journey to the Judgement Seat, which you can approach in confidence and joy.
We often think of those who have died. We should pray about them too. Not for them, it is unnecessary, because God has already granted them Divine Judgement, Mercy and Grace but we should give thanks for them in our prayers, remembering all the good things about them and what they did, even their foibles. Pray asking for comfort in our loss. Pray that we will always remember them and repeat all that, which was good in their lives. Today is Trinity Sunday, so it is appropriate that our prayers be in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Let us now pray in remembrance of them, silently. Amen.