I Peter 4: 7-11
7The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

“The end is near!” No, I didn’t get that from some long-bearded crank out in the streets wearing a robe and sandals and carrying a sign saying: “The End is Near!” I got it from St. Peter, in today’s Bible passage.

And I believe that the end of all things is near, but not because things are melting down between the Israelis and the Palestinians and among the Palestinians, and between America and Iran, and inside Pakistan. Those things are happening, and they scare me, but we’ve lived with such scary things for a long time. I believe that the end of all things is near for the same reason that Peter seems to believe that it is near: the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord from the dead, in our banner verse from chapter one, verse three. That fact sets the stage for everything else Peter says in this letter.

So if we believe that The End is Near, what does Peter say we should do (see above)? Dig a hole, build a cement bunker, and stockpile food and ammunitions for an apocalyptic end-time meltdown? Lobby our government to attack Iran and thereby provoke the battle of Armageddon and the return of Jesus?

And what does this have to do with our curious custom, at Emmanuel Mennonite Church, of renewing our membership annually, as we did last Sunday (November 18), when the message with the answers to the questions above was delivered? When anyone joins Emmanuel Mennonite Church, they are not only joining other members, they are effectively joining a mission. To keep that mission current and meaningful, members renew their membership each year. But whether one joins or renews says nothing about our love for anyone whom God brings our way to love. Membership is about the rights and responsibilities of voting and holding office, based on one’s personal ownership of our mission. But once we have a connection with anyone (with whom do we not?), once God brings anyone our way to love, then love is just a given, in all its sacrificial forms of support. And thus I risk giving away the answer to the question, What do we do if we believe that The End of All Things is Near? For that, please read on by clicking on the following link to: Download membershiprenewal07.doc

Mathew Swora, pastor



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