Readings for Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018

As we approach the end of the Church Year the readings turn to the end of this world when the Lord returns and makes all things new. The First Reading, Daniel 12:1-3, gives one of the first recorded hopes of the resurrection from the dead in the Old Testament. The prophet Daniel proclaimed that the archangel Michael, the protector of Israel, would rise and fight for the nation of Israel. As all of this reaches a climax, the proclamation of a future resurrection from the dead is revealed: those who have followed the Lord to everlasting life, and those who have done evil to punishment. This prophecy looks forward to Jesus and to the eternal life we have in Him, and a warning to those who reject Jesus.
Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, raise us up in You, giving us the gift of eternal life won through Your death and resurrection. Enable us to reach out with the Gospel of Your victory, calling others to follow You as Lord and Savior. Amen.

The psalm for today, Psalm 16, also proclaims God’s blessings and God’s rescue of His people from Sheol, from the place of the dead. As you read the psalm, imagine the words as being the words of Jesus; notice how the psalmist relies on the Lord, and that the Lord will protect and rescue him. Because of Jesus, this psalm is our prayer as well.
Most holy Jesus, teach us to see You more clearly, and to follow You through life and into eternal life. In Your Name we pray. Amen.

The Second Reading, Hebrews 10:11-25, summarizes the reason Jesus came – to be the ultimate and complete sacrifice for our sins so that we can be forgiven. Notice the blessings we have because of Jesus – we can enter into the presence of God through Jesus; let us draw near to God in faith, let us hold fast our confession of faith, let us encourage each other in faith and discipleship, always gathering as the people of God, especially as the Day of the Lord draws near.
Jesus, we thank and praise You for Your sacrifice for our sins. We thank and praise You that we can approach the heavenly Father through You. We thank and praise You that you keep us in faith. And we thank and praise You that You call us into Christian community. Keep us always in You. Amen.

The Gospel, Mark 13:1-13, is a saying of Jesus that must have brought the disciples up short – they expected the glorious Temple in Jerusalem to continue forever. Jesus tells them the time will soon come when not one stone of the Temple will be left upon another. This prophecy was fulfilled less that 40 years later when the Roman general Titus destroyed the Temple and burned the city of Jerusalem. Jesus then goes on to warn the disciples, including us, of future events of persecution of His followers. In our day today we are seeing a great deal of persecution of Christians, even disciples of Jesus being put to death for the faith. Jesus warned us of these days. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Him, trusting Him in life, death, and into eternal life.
Lord Jesus Christ, victorious Lord of all, be with all of Your followers who are experiencing persecution on account of Your Name. Receive the martyrs into Your everlasting peace. Keep us all firm in faith, and turn the hearts of persecutors to You in repentance, making them like Saul of Tarsus who was called and forgiven by You. Keep us safe in You. In Your Name we pray. Amen.

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