This weekend is the Last Sunday in the Church Year. The theme for the divine services will be "The Second Coming and Return of Our Lord Jesus Christ."
The epistle lesson includes these verses, "May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:11-14)
The Gospel lesson includes these verses which describe the events when Jesus was on the cross. "One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:39-43)
Jesus promises eternal life to all who believe in him. By his crucifixion, burial, resurrection and ascension, he is the once for all, completed sacrifice, for the sins of the world. Through faith in him, we have the sure hope of the resurrection of our bodies on the Last Day, when he returns in glory. His saints will then dwell with him forever in Paradise!
Also, the national "Thanksgiving Day" is next Thursday, Nov. 28. This has always been a time of thanksgiving to God for our homes, our churches and our nation. U.S. citizens will attend special church celebrations, enjoy special family feasts and also watch special football games on TV.
One of the Scripture texts for Thanksgiving festivals is Deuteronomy chapter 8. Here are some excerpted words from that chapter: "When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord you God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees…"
"Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase, and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God…"
"You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth and so confirm his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today…"
Let us pray after our Thanksgiving meals next week, "Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good and his mercy endures forever! Amen!"