Sunday 14 November

Today we go to church. This should be routine, but in this season where the meetings of the church are being micro regulated by public health, you need to book the service, and we have not felt that we can turn up, sit one meter apart, and sing into a mask.

Two things changed this. One is that we went to a funeral a couple of days ago. God bless the pentecostals who ran it. They did not care a whit for all the public health stuff. They cared for the family and friends.

The second is that we have been encouraged to attend by friends who have been going to church, and told us that it is not as sterile as the regulators would want it.

I also talked to my Dad. He misses church. He misses fellowship, and in Auckland only 25 can meet in any church. His normally seats hundreds, with multiple services a week.

It is important that we meet. That the bread is broken.That we approach communion confessing our sin and acknowledging the community of believers, which is the church.

That is far greater than any infection or virus or public health regulation. Those will end. But at the end, our witness will shine.

Daniel 12:1-3

12 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

Hebrews 10:19-25

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Mark 13:1-8

13 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

3 And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 And when you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.

There are other reasons to attend church. We all need to be reminded that it is not about us. It is about giving God the glory. We don’t have to like what is coming, but we have the tools to prepare ourselves.

And part of that is meeting, for one man and encourage and correct another. Others can advise, simply because they have been there. For those of us who are older, the current circumstances mean that we need to be teaching resilience, anti-fragility, robustness.

So we are not trapped by debt or dependence — particularly on the state. (The state, of course, is reliably evil).

I’ve had to learn a few hard lessons along the way about what life is really all about. And the truth is that it’s NOT about us, individually, and what we want. While that is important, it is not as important as what we are being prepared for. And that is often diametrically opposed to what we want and seek for ourselves.

There is a Power working on all of us. We Christians call Him, “Lord”. God works on us in ways that we usually will really dislike, to prepare us for things that He, and He alone, needs us to do. And the process of preparation for those trials is rarely fun and NEVER easy.

But, when God calls, you’d damned well better listen. Take it from someone who ignored the call for YEARS, and has paid a VERY heavy price for it. From what I’ve seen, He has a lot of patience for idiots – I sure as shit wouldn’t be here otherwise – but He doesn’t take too kindly to those who spurn the opportunities that He places in front of them to serve Him, and thereby serve and seek Truth.

So, when opportunities come up that look uncomfortable, or difficult, or dangerous, and you aren’t sure whether it’s worth taking the risk – give it a shot, especially if you are going to be working in an environment with people that are kind of in the same boat as you, and who are your peers. They’re facing the same fears, insecurities, issues, and problems as you are. But, in most cases, unlike you, they aren’t going to be believers in something greater and bigger than themselves.

Locally, there is pushback on the current regulations, lead by some ministers, who are now vilified. The narrative hates Christ and the good we have done, and instead is embracing paganism, forgetting that the Maori turned to Christ before colonization.

But this time will end, and our leaders will be footnotes in history. Those who stand against evil at this time, those who preach the gospel, those who engender a saving faith, will be glorious.

For the glory we gave God in this life will shine in all eternity.