Daily Devotion Saturday 7th October 2023

Saturday, 7 October 2023 
Until the End of the Age – not open-ended

Matthew 28:16-20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.  And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you all the days, to the end of the age.’

Reflection


Photo credit David Coleman

There are two Great Commissions of the Risen Christ: Mark’s version sends the Church out to proclaim Good News – unambiguously – to every creature/all Creation.   Matthew’s seems, on the face of it.  to have a narrower focus, though I wonder ‘nation’ might mean the living totality and habitat in which we participate. 

Discipleship then can be seen as the living ‘yeast in the biodiverse dough’ rather than conquest.  The ‘Commission’ is offered irrespective of belief or doubt;  Church is a more inclusive enterprise than a triumphal fait accompli of colonial conquest.

But what worries me most is the enthusiasm which assumes that ‘salvation’ is in the bag, with an open-ended assurance of the solidarity of Christ. ‘Always’ is what is sold by the makers of gravestones moved on or declared hazardous after a decade or two.  ‘Always’ is a capitalist commodity.  In the Old Testament, the “eternal Covenant of Salt”  is named bearing in mind that salt preserves food until such time as it’s needed, rather than infinitely. 

I don’t presume to suggest that Jesus’ promise to be with the Church ‘until the end of the Age’ is in any sense inferior to a bland and limitless ‘always.’  Life has endings. Ages change: not least geological and historical ones. We seem to be accelerating the end of the ‘Holocene’, which has cradled our cultures and religions. 

Our species is at “the turning of the ages” and God’s help is all the more valuable.  Or does that sound too primitive?  That old phrase ‘world without end’ might also legitimately be rendered ‘to the ages of ages’. A long time, but in every case with a limit, in every case, with a further tuning point. An engagement for creatures with limits, who will live and die in a fragile ecosystem.

Look around. Notice how planetary limits kick in whatever. Trust in Christ, be of good cheer,  and act accordingly. 

Prayer

God of ‘Too late’
with us to the End
and then beyond?

Thank-you for your presence now
as ages turn!

Thank-you for the example you set 
of divine fragility.

Our God is Great!
folks say, convinced 
that what seems great must also be their god.
Beyond which,  thanks to you we learn
God is Tiny, too!
Amen
 

Today’s writer

The Rev’d David Coleman is a URC Minister and Chaplain to EcoCongregations Scotland.

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Copyright © 2023 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you have subscribed to the Daily Devotions from the United Reformed Church. You can unsubscribe by clicking on the link below.

Our mailing address is:

United Reformed Church

86 Tavistock Place

London, WC1H 9RT

United Kingdom

Add us to your address book