Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together.

Welcome to the gathering of St. Mark’s Church (Sunday worship under one roof)

Sunday, November 14th, 2021.

Hebrews 10:19-25

19Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

What was the first thing you did this morning when you woke up? I wonder whether you opened the curtain to be greeted with the morning light. How wonderful that morning light is. This is especially true in Winter isn’t it? When you draw the curtains open to catch the morning sun, it streams in and awakens every cell in our body. Every day we open our curtains to let the light in, the light that dispels the night away, and wakes us up from our slumber.

We heard read that the new and living way has been opened for us through the curtain, that is through Christ Jesus. What we must do every day, Christ has done once and for all, Christ has completed it through his completeness, the curtain is drawn for us to bathe in our eternal morning light.

We are invited to just come and bathe in the morning light of Christ. We are invited to just trust and rest in the faithfulness of the God who has drawn the curtain open wide, have confidence in what God has done in Christ to opened the life of new and living way. We are invited to get on with enjoying the morning light and this new and living way, which manifests itself through being open to one another, loving one another and doing good deeds together as a community of God who is faithful and open to us through Christ Jesus.

I invite you to a time of prayerful silence.

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together.

Singing: Great Is Your Faithfulness

Welcome and Notices

Praying the Psalm

We pray together today psalm 16. I will explain the context so that we can pray these words for ourselves today. The psalm is one of trust in uncertain times. It is not a lament as if there is an immediate and particular threat but it is a plea nontheless as the world seems to be falling apart and there is fear in the air.

In the midst of this uncertainty, insecurity and confusion, the psalmist invites us to join with him to stake our lives in God. In other words, to join in with the holy ones, whose ways are God’s ways. We are implored to discern and choose not the way of gods whose people contribute to the falling apart of our world and rallies in fear mongering. Rather choose the God whose ways are good, where refuge is found and there is delight, a true delight.

It is in trusting and holding fast to God’s ways with the holy ones, there we shall find a sure foundation, the ground from which a journey for a new life can begin, a path of life for hope rather than fear and decay. There in the communion with those who have staked their life with this God of new beginnings, there we shall taste true delight.

People of God, what are you hearing, what are you seeing, what is the state of our world? What is the state of our community, our church, and the communities around us? How is this impacting you? Are you fearful? Are you in denial? Are you indifferent? Though the world is falling apart, let us not be paralysed by fear but let us stake our lives in the God of Jesus Christ whose ways are hope. Here in this place we are with the holy ones, let us rejoice in the delight of our communion of those who are dedicated to the life-giving purposes of God for the world.

With a sense of hope rising, let us pray the psalm together:

Please respond with the words in bold.

Psalm 16 (adapted for worship)

Protect me, O God,

for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

I have no good apart from you.”

The holy ones are indeed the noble of the land,

  in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;

  I will not follow their ways, I will not sing their songs.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;

you secure my lot.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

I have a delightful inheritance.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken

Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices;

my body also rests secure.

because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.

You show me the path of life.

In your presence there is fullness of joy

Prayer for Others:

Praying the Lord’s Prayer


Offering Prayer:

Singing:  Mighty Fortress Is Our Lord

Scripture Reading: Mark 13:1-8

As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 2Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.”

When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.


Have you ever stood before a grand structure and was overawed by its grandeur? Colosseum, Parthenon, Pyramids of Egypt and Maya, Great Wall of China and New Zealand’s very own Sky Tower?! More often than not, it is at the sight of ancient structures more so than modern structures, that we feel an awe of it.

Recently, I came across an interesting explanation for it. An architect explains that the reason we are impressed by a grand structures of old is not merely simply because of its size. It is because innately we understand the power of it, the power of overcoming and withstanding the weight of gravity over centuries which was built with a limited technology and by human hands.

Today’s Gospel reading begins with this awe over a grand structure, the temple. Look, what large stones and what large buildings!” The awe expressed of the temple’s grandeur arises from an innate understanding of its physical power overcoming nature. How it withstands gravity! How did they place such huge stones on top of one another? How it lasts! Surely it will stand the test of time.

Not only was the temple significant in its grandeur, it was, of course, the most significant centre of Jewish identity. It was not only the spiritual centre but at the same time the economic and political centre too. It was in the temple where they experienced the presence of God. It was the temple that provided an alternate way of living to the economic system of the Roman market and economy.

It was the temple that was the focus and location of being a distinct people as the people of God. The temple defined them, as the people of God in and against the Roman world, whose ways sought to usurp God’s ways. It has withstand the power not only of time, it resists the power of Rome! It will stand the test of time, it will last forever. The temple resembled the foundation, resilience and security of God’s people.

A grand structure instills in us a sense of security and permanence. What represents foundation, resilience and security for you? Perhaps, the temple, here, can become a metaphor for our securities. What is your “temple?” What is the temple that you place your trust in, you find your identity in? What is your temple that you believe will stand the test of time? What is your temple that you place your confidence in because you trust that it will never change?

Isn’t it alarming then that Jesus would speak of the end of the temple? When Jesus speaks of the end of the temple, we mustn’t think it is a condemnation. Even good things come to an end. There are end to things not necessarily a bad end but an end in the sense that it has been completed. It has been necessary for a time. It served its use. With the completion of what it was purposed for, it has come to its end. It’s not necessarily, therefore, a doom but a job well done.

But, what happens when we try and hold on to it, not willing to accept that its purpose has been served? Well, then, it becomes what all other ancient structures become that has lost its purpose – a tourist destination. Tourists come to look and take picture for their own satisfaction as opposed to what it was purposed for. The time and energy, the money and resources, are spent in maintaining the temple rather than using it to do what it was supposed to be. In other words, we are led astray.

Jesus warns his disciples against being led astray. It is easy for us to confuse the end with the means. The temple was never the end but the means. In fact, it was always the means for that time and the season. The temple was necessary for that time and for that season but never for all time.

This is hard to hear when our temple, whatever it is, comes to its end. Over time, our identity, our security, has become fused with our temple that to see it come to an end is like seeing our very own selves coming to an end. Well, as disciples of Jesus, let us heed Jesus’ warning. Let us not be misled to think this way lest we confuse our end with the means.

What must we do then so that we don’t confuse our end with the means? Well, the passage gives us an important clue. In the reading, it says that Jesus was with his disciples at the foot of the temple when one of them expressed an admiration for the grandeur of the temple, dwarfed by the immense size. Then, after this, we read that Jesus and his disciples were on Mount of Olives opposite to the temple.

From Mount of Olives, they would have had another perspective of the temple. Though still impressive, from the top of a mountain, the temple could now be seen in its entirety. Once removed from the temple, they are able to have a realistic perspective of the temple. Not only that, they are physically removed from the temple not to confuse themselves with the coming end of the temple. Jesus literally takes them on a journey so that their perspective is changed.

This change of perspective is all the more true if we consider the significance of Mount of Olives. To us who know the story, we have the benefit of hindsight to realise that Mount of Olives is the place where the resurrected Jesus ascends into heaven. Here in this reading, there is a juxtaposition of an end and a new beginning. An end of the temple, it’s completion, and a beginning of a new way of being opened up by Christ Jesus.

This change of perspective, this journey of removing ourselves from our temple in order that we are not led astray, that we do not confuse the end from the means points to an important task as Christians, as the community of Resurrected Jesus. An important task we are called to do is an act of discernment. When we seek to discern we are actively living out two Christian truths.

First, we are living out the truth that God is the Living God. God’s purpose of redemption and love never changes but how God calls us to manifest God’s redemption and love may require a different priority and may look different. Second, we are living out the truth that the living God calls God’s people to walk humbly with God for this time and this season rather than what it has been.

What is your “temple” that gives you security? What is our church’s security? What brings St. Mark’s a sense of security? Let us be a discerning people who do not confuse our end with the means. Our end is to manifest God’s love we see and experience in Christ Jesus to our community as we make decisions and prioritise our resources to reflect our desire and commitment to see our community to thrive in the love of God. Let us discern how best to love the people in our community for this time and this season. Let us together consider ways to provoke one another to love and good deeds.

Reflection song: In You Alone by Latifah Alattas & Aaron Strumpel

Singing: My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less


The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

and the love of God,

and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all,

now and for evermore. Amen.