The traditional church year calendar is on its last page now. From All Saints Day (November 1) until Advent, the church focuses on Christ's return. Advent, the four weeks before Christmas,--starting December 2 this year--begins the new church year. It makes sense. What began in Bethlehem will be completed with Christ's return, the fulfillment.
We need to be taught at a young age why the world is the way it is. Unchurched children who attend secular schools learn that the way of the world is genuine and natural. You live life the way the world tells you to live it. Some topics are off limits. Some people should be treated better than others, while some deserve to be hated. Religions are all the same, and the secret to a good life is to get what you can out of it and to soothe your guilty conscience by engaging in a cause the world tells you is worthy.
That's the worldly crowd that the apostle Paul describes in 2 Timothy 3. He wrote, "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people."
But there is the other crowd as described by the disciple John as recorded in Revelation 7. He wrote, "Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?" I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
The crowd that Paul described has a destiny that involves torment and eternal death. Those who believe that "God would never do that" are invited to say those exact words in the face of a crucifix. Or think of the Great Flood. The crowd that John described is the one who faced the great tribulations of living in the shadow of the howling crowd of the lost world, but had faith in that cross of Christ.
If you have children or grandchildren, ask them about what they think about life. Look for clues to what are the child's expectations of life and of others. That will tell you of their vision of life and to which crowd they favor. Take them to a church that does not side with the world. (Matthew 10:32-39) May you and they be of the holy and happy crowd as pictured by brother John. Gloria Deo--Glory to God.
Rev. Timothy Matthew
of Redeemer Lutheran