Summary: We take on the forces of darkness in whatever area of the battlefield God has placed us, and maybe wexre confronting legal corruption, or maybe it is a political problem, or...
Ange and I have had a lousy week.
I know that’s not a great way to begin a sermon, and I’m not only saying this as an excuse for saying, ‘sorry, but you’re getting a lousy sermon’, but the truth is that we have had a lousy week.
It began really with Marrickville Council rejecting our application for a street mall in our local shopping area, and it wasn’t the fact that the application was rejected that was so upsetting, but why and how that rejection came about. Much to our shock, a smear campaign was run to oppose the development and some outrageous lies were told, and it seems that at the heart of the problem were some wealthy landowners in our area who thought that a free mall area for the elderly and economically disadvantaged might be bad for business.
That was a very disillusioning experience.
That experience kicked off the week, and it was followed by a series of painful situations in the parish - of illness and abuse and of that rather unhelpful woman who got on to our online forum and posted a series of smutty and sleazy attacks on Ange as well as myself - spreading poison around our online community.
And then I got the news that ASIO wants to deport my friend, Sheikh Mansour, for reasons that they will not divulge - not to him, not to his legal team, not to anybody - not even to the High Court!
And so I reach the end of the week and I read this passage, that speaks of the coming of the end - the impending violence, the great and terrible battle when ‘not one stone will be left upon another’ - and I think, ‘bring it on, baby!’ Let’s get this stoush into the open!
Now, of course, this is fundamentally a prophecy about the destruction of the temple, and the temple referred to was destroyed by the Romans way back in 67 AD. But as the passage evolves, the war over temple is seen merely as the beginning of a series of clashes, where one battle merges into another, and the temple crisis becomes a sort of prelude to the great and final stoush that will conclude human history as we know it and usher in the world to come
Armageddon is the main event, to which all the other bouts featured are just a part of the under-card. This final bout, which we are all waiting for, has not yet taken place, though you pick up in the passage that there’s a fair bit of anticipation about exactly when this great and final punch-up is going to start!
It reminds me a lot of the speculation that went on for years about the Green-Mundine fight, that finally took place in May of last year - certainly the greatest pugilistic event that I’ve ever had the privilege of being a part of.
Even if you weren’t there on the night, I’m sure you remember it. And even if you don’t remember the fight itself, you will surely remember the lead-up to the great event, from the time that Jeff Fenech first challenged Mundine to a winner-take-all knock-em-down stoush, to the time when the match finally came together about three years later!
One of my most vivid memories of my time in Israel in 2004 was standing outside Ashkelon Prison, waiting for the release of my friend, Morde Vanunu. There I was, standing with a small group of peace activists, both Israelis and internationals, surrounded by an enormous mob of angry antagonists, screaming for Morde’s blood (and with ABC’s Foreign Correspondent crew).
And there we stood for hours and hours as heavily armed men swarmed around us and choppers flew overhead, in an atmosphere that you could cut with a knife and during this time, what do you think the two Australian members of the international peace contingent were discussing with our Israeli counterparts - who would win the Green-Mundine fight!
And yet it was another two years after that event that the battle actually took place. And we herded into Aussie Stadium, and we waded through the preliminary bouts, and then we waited forever for the two men to finally be ready, and then we watched as two great processions made their way out of the dressing rooms, across the field, with flags unfurled and title belts held high - the image of the boxing kangaroo, waving in the breeze, fast moving towards both the Aboriginal flag and the flag of the Torres Straight Islands, proudly held aloft.
And finally the two were at centre ring. And then we watch them limber up and we listen to the announcer and we stand for the national anthem and we wait an eternity for that bell to ring … and finally … it was on!