November 2023

From Deuteronomy to Christ’s Return            

We have spent the last few months preaching through Deuteronomy. I think it has been important for us to reaffirm as a congregation, out loud, that we are called to discipleship. We are to strive to do what is right and to reject what is wrong. In 1930s Germany, the Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote to his fellow German Christians that by failing to preach and teach discipleship and by only teaching about God’s love and grace, the German church had slid into blessing violence and hate.

Deuteronomy captures what Bonhoeffer called “costly grace.” Only by grace were the Israelites saved from Egypt, offered a new land and a new way of life. It was a gift. But it was costly because they had to leave their way of life behind. It was an invitation into discipleship.

We delight to hear about and reflect on God’s love and grace, but being confronted about how we ought to live is less appealing. Some of our discomfort may be wariness of appearing legalistic, judgmental or just stuffy. But some of our discomfort may be with God’s authority over us. It is hard to resist justifying or excusing our behaviour. It is easy to dismiss teaching and preaching as ‘just that person’s opinion’ or dismiss the Bible because it is from a different time.

November is the final month in the church calendar. We are approaching Advent and Christmas, the celebration of the coming of Jesus. We will be reading about the return of Jesus as described in 1 Thessalonians. In this way, the call from Deuteronomy to a new way of life will be followed up by a reminder that Jesus is coming to be our judge.

The news these days makes it clear we need Jesus to come and judge us. That day will also be costly grace: costly because it is judgement, but grace because it will set things right. May we prepare for Jesus’ return by asking Jesus to examine our hearts and lives today.

With love, Pastor Joel 


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