Summary: Sermon 14 in a study in 1 & 2 Peter
“The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
One of my most vivid memories as a young child has to do with church and after church. I don’t know if this is a recollection of a single incident or of several incidents that occurred in so much the same way that they blend together in my mind as one, and that is perhaps why I remember so well; not because of any certain aspect of the incident, but because it was sort of ‘practiced’ in my church experience and therefore found its own groove in my gray matter.
In any case, I do remember it, at least in snapshots. It goes like this.
I have been misbehaving. I seem to remember taking something out of the offering plate as it passed in front of me and I see my mother’s white-gloved hand grabbing my wrist and making me let go.
I remember scribbling Zorro ‘Z’s all over the bulletin, and I must have been doing it with a flair that would have gained the approval of The Fox himself, because I remember the white-gloved hand coming down on my pencil hand in an indication that I was being too distracting.
Then I remember looking up at her face, seeing her put her finger to her lips in the universal sign to be quiet, and with a levity and cockiness that would have made Spanky proud responding with a loud, “Okey dokey!”
Now I might not have retained the memory of any of these things to this day except for what came next. I remember standing because everyone was standing, hearing the music that always marked the end of the worship service, seeing my dad stepping down from the platform to give the benediction, and knowing that the end of all things was at hand.
It was then that it registered in my mind that within just a few minutes I was going to be alone with my mother, and the tight purse of her lips told me that she had corporal punishment in mind.
If you think about it, wouldn’t you agree that we pretty much live our lives from one ending to another? The fulfillment of one thing to the next?
We grow up going to school, and each year we are working toward some series of fulfillments. Of the semester, of the school year, passing from elementary to junior high to high school and looking forward to the end, graduation. And the pattern continues in every area of our lives.
The point I want to make about it though, is that whatever the event or the change that we’re working toward or looking forward to, it is when we know the time is short and that long-awaited occurrence is just around the corner that everything intensifies and our thinking and our behavior becomes most sharply focused on being prepared for it.