Sunday Worship Schedule
9:15 a.m. Children’s Sunday School
9:15 a.m. Adult Education and Fellowship
10:30 a.m. Worship
Holy Communion is served on the first and fourth Sundays of the month.
Bethany Lutheran Church
3901-36th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55406
Office hours: M-F 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
It’s the first week of Advent- and you know what that means, right- an apocalyptic text from the Gospel! What? You don’t know this one? This rule got by you?
Matthew 24: 36-44
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (full text at end of message)
An apocalyptic text is one which speaks of the end of the world, as Jesus does in the Matthew text for today. An apocalyptic text has drama, action, end of the world excitement ready-made and built-in. But why does the lectionary (the suggested Bible readings for the day, used by churches all over the world), give us this type of Biblical literature for the first week of Advent? Last week we had the crucifixion, this week we are getting the end of the world… what is the deal here?
Last Sunday, at Lifelong Learning, I attempted to show a video called “The Science of Happiness”. Technical difficulties kept us from seeing that video, but its message ties into today’s readings, and I want to tell you about it.
The YouTube video was an attempt to corroborate the idea that the act of being grateful, of saying thank you, increases one’s sense of personal happiness. People who say thank you, and mean it, are happier than those who do not.
I bet you are thinking, how tough is that to figure out? You are right, it is not that hard. But what made the video so charming, and so interesting, was watching that idea play out – watching it become reality, rather than just a factoid.
It seems out of place, doesn’t it? This stark narrative of death by torture, the Gospel for today. I mean, we are about to go into Advent, Christmas is almost here- and that’s the season of relentless commercials spreading the message of good cheer and hyper-sentimentality.
So what’s with the death scene? Why get us all bummed out with Jesus dying, when we are ready to celebrate Jesus’ birth? We don’t want the end of the story, we want to start at the beginning, when it is all fresh and new, and covered in fluffy snow for a good Christmas card image.
It is Sundays like today that I am grateful for the lectionary, the listing of texts that are suggested for the readings in the church. Christians all around the world are hearing these same verses today. To tell the truth, I would never choose to preach on the crucifixion the week before Advent. But now that it has been given to me, and I’ve given the subject some thought, this is exactly what I want to talk about.