Between Thanksgiving and the service for the departed

In the northern hemisphere, the month of October is often described as a “golden” month: it still brings quite a bit of sunshine, boasts some beautiful sunsets, and paints the leaves of the trees in fabulous hues. This only serves to reinforce the realisation that God’s creation is wonderful!

“Tanya just killed a spider!” cries her brother in horror. His mother takes both of her children aside to tell them about the miracles of nature, and explains that each living creature has its place in God’s creation. Tanya understands this quite well, as children often understand certain things better than adults. In God’s creation, everything has its place, and that includes human beings. There are just as few useless herbs (weeds) as there are useless people. Each and every one is part of the one unique creation. But since man is no more than a stranger on earth (Psalm 119: 19), he should treat the creation with care and respect, and do his best to preserve it instead of destroying it! Nowadays, a different impression is beginning to prevail, however, namely that all human beings—each and every one of us—are guilty of violations against the creation. We human beings not only treat the air, water, and soil carelessly, but even go so far as to poison these gifts of God to the point that the very order of life is threatened with destruction. “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees,” it says in the Bible (Revelation 7: 3)—a clear message for us. A Cree prophecy that has become quite famous over time states: “Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, and only after the last fish has been eaten, you will realise that you cannot eat money.”

The Golden Rule

On the second Sunday in October, the sermons in our New Apostolic divine services will explore the “Golden Rule”: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7: 12). This seems rather self-evident all on its own, doesn’t it? Even common sense tells us that it is better to not only look out for ourselves, but also for others! But the situation is not always quite as simple as that. For attentive Christians this leads to the question: how do I live as a Christian in daily life? Do I only look out for myself or do I also look out for others? The answer to this question is simple and yet so difficult all at once: we must treat our neighbour as Jesus treats us! In this context there is a helpful and important statement from the gospel that says: “How can you love God, whom you cannot see, and not love your brother, whom you see?” Honest charity is not a show that we put on before an applauding audience!

A life without lies or deceit, without selfishness, without manipulation, without humiliation, or discrimination. It could be so beautiful!

Liberty …

On the third Sunday of October the sermon focuses on an ancient psalm which relates that Moses and the people who had just crossed the Red Sea sang a hymn of praise: “The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will exalt Him” (Exodus 15: 2). This is a hymn of gratitude and esteem for God. It expresses themes of freedom and deliverance: God liberated the people of Israel from their captivity in Egypt, and only He was able to accomplish this. Applied to the Christians of the modern age, this means: sing a hymn of thanks to God, who has redeemed you from the captivity of sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ—no one else would have been able accomplish this!

… for all

Such liberty from sin and guilt even extends beyond earthly life. The service for the departed at the beginning of November is captioned by the motto of “Redemption for all human beings”, and calls upon us to prepare ourselves ahead of time. “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10: 20). God will see to it that all human beings have the opportunity to decide for Jesus. God will complete His work, and will make it possible for all those who follow Jesus to enter into eternal fellowship with Him.

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Peter Johanning
Divine service