“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Listen to these verses from Luke 21 again – this time from The Message
It will seem like all hell has broken loose – sun, moon, stars, earth, sea, in an uproar and everyone all over the world in a panic, the wind knocked out of them by the threat of doom, the powers-that-be quaking.
“And then – then! – they’ll see the Son of Man welcomed in grand style – a glorious welcome! When all this starts to happen, up on your feet. Stand tall with your heads high. Help is on the way!
Did you hear a similar call in the Psalms?
Psalm 24 Lift up your heads O gates and be lifted up, O ancient doors! That the Ruler of glory may come in.
Psalm 25 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul….Let none that wait for you be put to shame….for you I wait all the day long.
The chrismon for today is an angel – a messenger from God – a herald angel – royal messages from Christ our king.
The angel announces that Christ is coming – and when he does things will change for Christ brings salvation to this troubled and tormented world.
In our singing today we all proclaimed:
“I’m looking for the coming of Christ, I want to be with Jesus….”
“Angels announce with shouts of mirth him who brings new life to earth.”
But is it true? Are you really on watch? Are you lifting your heads up looking for Christ come into our word? The angles are still all around us announcing Christ. Do we hear it?
Our Methodist forbears heard it, the good news of Christ coming. First they heard it, and then they experienced Christ in their own lives, and then they joined the angel chorus and spread the news to everyone they knew. Some young men were so inspired that they became Methodist preachers. Freeborn Garretson who mostly preached up and down the Hudson River Valley also took trips through New England to Nova Scotia and back. He was called, “a flaming herald of salvation over an immense territory.”
When the Methodists of the New England Annual Conference founded their newspaper in 1823 they called it the Zion’s Herald. In the Bible Zion is another name for Jerusalem, the capital of the Kingdom of God. And the Zion’s Herald was full of news about the work of God all over New England and in the world beyond.
Isaac Jennison, the first ordained Methodist preacher to come to South Walpole wrote in December about the “gradual work of God in Duxbury” in 1823 He reported, “A number have professed faith in Christ while others are anxiously inquiring what they shall do to be saved. A spirit of prayer is cherished in the church, and the prospect for a more extensive revival is flattering. Some opposition is made, but God gives his people holy confidence to face the enemies of the cross; young converts speak and pray to the astonishment of multitudes who flock to hear. At Scituate, especially at the Harbor, the Lord is visiting the people in mercy; at one meeting about twenty rose for prayer. In Plymouth also the prospect of a revival is very good.”
The Zion’s Herald was full of such exciting good news about the growth of our church because the people had lots of practice giving reports of what God was doing in their lives. Working as a herald, blowing the trumpet of Zion to awaken people to the hand of God at work in their lives was the mission of the Methodists. As one historian put it, “The main merit of the [Methodist church] is that… it saw plainly the thing to be done and adhered to this course unfalteringly to the end. It sent out year by year clear-sounding, clarion notes that waked the echoes far and wide, disturbing the slumbers of the church and calling to action…those that would otherwise have slept on.”
Where did everyday Methodists get their training as heralds for Zion? From class meetings and love feasts. When the first class meet here in South Walpole was announced twenty people stayed and the second one brought so many people that they had to meet in two separate rooms. At the class meeting, which ended at 9 pm. each person was invited to speak about what God was doing in them. Our church records say, “Soon greater numbers than ever attended the class until it seemed impossible to speak to all at a single meeting. It was the necessity of closing this meeting ‘ere all had spoken that led Bro. Smith more than once to exclaim “Thank God there will be no nine o’clock in heaven.”
A Love Feast is like a larger public class meeting conducted during worship. We’re going to practice being heralds. Where have you seen God at work in your life this week? Move into a circle, stand, or sit if you need to, use the talking stick for one at a time. Learning to be heralds for Zion was one factor that led to the original growth of this congregation because it helped people to wake up to Christ at work in the world around us.
Lift up your heads, hear Zion’s Herald. We will be heralds of the Good News of Christ.