Early Christians were confident that Jesus Christ’s second coming was imminent. Many thought that it would come in their own lifetimes, and they would witness it. This understanding was the bedrock of religious faith for many new Christians. However, when followers of Jesus realized that they would not live to experience the second coming—that Christians were dying before Christ’s coming—they then had to reframe both the end times and the parousia, the Greek term, meaning arrival. In language developed later, the understanding became that parousia was both now, but not yet.
Jesus said that he needed to ascend to his Father in order than he could send the Holy Spirit back to earth. We’ve often tended to think that the Holy Spirit isn’t enough, somehow. Most of us should think about it better. If Jesus in the flesh came to earth right now—how would 7 billion people on earth interact with him? How could he be heard? How could Jesus listen to the babble all of us would raise? It seems demeaning, perhaps more than a little scandalous, but exactly how would the logistics work?
Theologians didn’t abandon the Second Coming, but they did land on an understanding that was more sophisticated. While the earth waited in rapt attention for Jesus to complete the journey from earth and back to earth again, God the Holy Spirit was the brilliant presence we needed in every present present age. God’s blessed spirit was capacious enough to engage with all of us. That spirit was not hemmed in by time or space. God would be with us personally, listening to every word of prayer. Finding room for blessings when everything seemed dour and dreadful. Hope in the darkness.
The Holy Spirit is the baptismal water than pours out from all the cracks until it fills everything with life-giving grace. Pastor Neil
Celebrant and people We gather together as we live our lives, in the name of the ☩ Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Celebrant Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins;
People His mercy endures forever.
Celebrant Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE COLLECT OF THE DAY
Celebrant The Lord be with you.
People And also with you.
Celebrant Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
THE LITURGY OF THE WORD
A Reading from Jeremiah, at the 33rd Chapter
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
Reader The Word of the Lord.
People Thanks be to God.
Let us read from psalm 25 responsively
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
my God, I put my trust in you; *
let me not be humiliated,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
Let none who look to you be put to shame; *
let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.
Show me your ways, O Lord, *
and teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, *
for you are the God of my salvation;
in you have I trusted all the day long.
Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love, *
for they are from everlasting.
Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions; *
remember me according to your love
and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.
Gracious and upright is the Lord; *
therefore he teaches sinners in his way.
He guides the humble in doing right *
and teaches his way to the lowly.
All the paths of the Lord are love and faithfulness *
to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
A reading from Thessalonians, at the 3rdchapter
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.
Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
Reader: The Epistle of the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God.
A Reading from the Gospel of Luke, at the 21stChapter
Jesus said, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of God.”
Celebrant The Gospel of the Lord.
People Praise to you, O Christ.
Sermon Pastor Neil
The Apostles’ Creed
Celebrant and people
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth;
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Prayers of the People
Reader In peace, we pray to you, Lord God—
Grant, Almighty God, that all who confess your name may be united in your truth, live together in your love, and reveal your glory in the world. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Guide the people of this land, and of all nations, in the ways of justice and peace; that we may honor one another and serve the common good. Heal the rifts that bind, vex, and scare us. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Give us all a reverence for the earth as your own creation, that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others and to your honor and glory. Heal the wounds of those who have been victimized by climate change and destruction. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Bless all whose lives are closely linked with ours, and grant that we may serve Christ in them, and love one another as he loves us. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit; give us purpose and hope in troubles; and bring us the joy of your salvation. Bestow courage upon those who look at the world, and who wonder if there is a safe and gracious place for them. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
We commend to your mercy all who have died, that your will for them may be fulfilled; and we pray that we may share with all your saints in your eternal kingdom. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Silence to lift our own prayers to God
Celebrant Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage, we may always be supported by this community of fellowship of love and prayer. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
A Confession of Our Sins to God
Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.
Silence may be kept
Minister and People
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Almighty God have mercy on you, ☩ forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all
goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in
eternal life. Amen.
Celebrant The peace of the Lord be always with you.
People And also with you.
The Great Thanksgiving
Celebrant The Lord be with you.
People And also with you.
Celebrant Lift up your hearts.
People We lift them to the Lord.
Celebrant Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is a right, and a good and joyful thing, always and every-where to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. For you are the source of light and life. You made us in your image, and called us to new life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, who forever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:
Celebrant and People Holy, Holy, Holy Lord—God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Celebrant We give thanks to you, O God, for the goodness and love which you have made known to us in creation; in the calling of Israel to be your people; in your Word spoken through the prophets; and above all in the Word made flesh, Jesus, your Son. For in these last days you sent him to be incarnate from the Virgin Mary, to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world. In him, you have delivered us from evil, and made us worthy to stand before you. In him, you have brought us out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life.
On the night before he died for us, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”
After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”
Therefore, according to his command, O Father, we say together:
Celebrant and People
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
Celebrant And we offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to you, O Lord of all, presenting to you, from your creation, this bread and this wine. We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.
Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be ☩ for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace. At the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom.
Celebrant and People By Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and forever. Amen.
And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to pray:
The Lord’s Prayer
People Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
A Call to Communion
Celebrant The gifts of God for the people of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.
Celebrant will distribute communion to people in their chairs.
The General Thanksgiving
Celebrant and People
Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Celebrant Sisters and brothers, we go out into the world in peace. We live and walk as part of God’s beloved community. May God help us all to be of good courage, to hold on to what is good, and to return to no one an evil for an evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, aid the suffering, do justice, honor all people, and let our gentleness be known by everyone. May God, who raised our Lord Jesus from death, lift us up and restore us to wholeness. And may God bless us all, ☩ in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Celebrant Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
People Thanks be to God.
MORE ABOUT THE ART WORK ON THE COVER OF THIS BULLETIN
The basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian is a church in the Roman Forum, parts of which incorporate long- standing Roman buildings. The site was adapted and converted by Theodoric the Great who donated to Pope Felix IV a library and a portion of the Temple of Romulus. The pope repurposed the buildings to create a basilica devoted to the to the Greek brothers and saints, Cosmas and Damian. They were surgeons who died martyrs’ deaths in the reign of terror of Roman emperor Diocletian. The splendid mosaic of Christ descending to earth is one of many stunning mosaics throughout the basilica. It is located in the apse, a vaulted structure built behind the high altar’s back wall. The apse mosaic represented the parousia, popularly known as Second Coming at the end times, revealed in the final book of the Bible called Revelation.
The circular building located at the Former entrance from the Forum, now houses a small archeological exhibit. The present entrance to the basilica comes from another direction. This round edifice was built in the early 4th century as a Roman temple. It was consecrated as a church in 527. The lamb mosaic is one of dozens throughout the church, each depicting a different personality, stance, and face.
This collection of buildings, and their grand mosaics, have not been well treated by church stewards down through history. That of course is true of many ancient buildings and in particular churches, basilicas, and cathedrals. So very disappointing.