Sermons 2007
Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Proper 28C 2007 Luke 31:5-19

This gospel text for today presents us with several challenges in coming to grips with what is going on inside of what is happening.

The first is the problem of predictions of any kind, whether from Jesus himself or others. Have you ever tried to make a prediction? Here are some predictions from the past. All from people who were trusted individuals:

Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, in 1943 said, "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." And Ken Olson, President of Digital Equipment Corporation, in 1977: “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.”

Popular Mechanics magazine in 1949: "Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons."

The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall Publishers in 1957, turning down a manuscript on data processing: “I have traveled the length and breadth of this country, and have talked with the best people in business administration. I an assure you on the highest authority that data processing is a fad and won’t last out the year.”

An inventor by the name of Lee DeForest claimed that "While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility."

The Decca Recording Co. made a big mistake when they made this prediction in 1962 "We don't like their sound. Groups of guitar music are on the way out." Their prediction in 1962 concerning a group called the Beatles. And this: “You ain’t goin’ nowhere son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” The manager of the Grand Ole Opry to a young man just out of the Army named Elvis Presley. (1)

When Jesus and the disciples were leaving the Temple in Jerusalem Jesus stopped them, looked back at the complex and predicted, "Do you see all these great buildings. Not one stone will be left on another."

To the disciples this was impossible. The smallest stones in the structure weighed 2 to 3 tons. Many of them weighed 50 tons. The largest stone still existing is over 36 feet long and over 9 feet high, weighing hundreds of tons. The stones were so immense that neither mortar nor any other binding material was used between the stones. The structure was stabilized by the great weight of the stones. The walls towered over Jerusalem, over 400 feet in one area. Inside the walls were 45 acres of bedrock shaved flat. In Jesus' day a quarter of a million people could fit comfortably inside the walls. (2)

Forty years later Jesus' prediction came true. In 70 AD the Romans, with their superb military engineers, destroyed the Temple. What do we do with all this? It tells us that predictions are problematical. That most likely Luke wrote his gospel after 70 AD -- around 80-85 AD -- and either put these words in Jesus’ mouth or was recording an oral tradition in the early Christian communities.

The second thing is that such predictions are in the prophetic tradition of apocalypticism. The most famous versions of this are Daniel in the Old Testament and Revelation in the New. Such prophecies focus on future events -- the destruction of the Temple, for example – and have a supernatural or divine aura about them. Apocalypticism was a not uncommon mode of expression in Palestine in Jesus day.

Certainly Revelation has had a lasting impact, especially the 6th Chapter with its descriptions of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War on his bloody red horse, representing the nature of the antichrist kingdom, sweeping his sword of maiming and destruction; Famine, carrying a set of scales of judgement on his emaciated black horse, spreading starvation; Pestilence or Plague, the antichrist on his white horse, the white color of vermin; and Death, the pale horse with the pale rider, the symbol of Hell and damnation. (3) Together the Four Horsemen symbolize what must be endured at the beginning of the end of times.

It is hard for us here to imagine the kinds of things Jesus was telling his disciples they had to endure for their faith. We are protected in our faith by the Constitution and laws of nation and commonwealth. But it is not true elsewhere in the world. In those places Jesus’ words have power and meaning. It is our task to support, and pray and work for those who must endure war, famine, pestilence, and death because they are Christians. Or for any reason any where.


1. From The Experts Speak, pp 182-183, 207-209
2. eSermons Resources for November 18, 2007