Motivation and Preparation for Mission
A rare celestial event will occur next year when a total solar eclipse appears throughout the contiguous United States on April 8. This last happened in 2017, and won’t occur again for another 20 years.
Astronomy Magazine lists several tips on ways to begin now to prepare for this experience. Its writers advise making arrangements now to take off work for the day of the eclipse. April 8, 2024 is a Monday, so schedule a personal or vacation day to have a memorable 3-day weekend. Look for local groups that you can link up with—astronomy clubs or science centers—that are planning community events. Use the restroom at least 45 minutes before totality! Also, make sure you get eclipse safety glasses well ahead of time, as they may be in short supply closer to the event.
Their next suggestions may seem counterintuitive coming from an astronomical magazine: Photograph the event (the gatherings of people and dimming light, etc.), but don’t photograph the eclipse itself. You can spend so much time trying to get your focus, aperture and shutter settings just right that you miss seeing the actual eclipse.
And most importantly—invite your friends to join you for the event and even plan an after-party for everyone to share their thoughts and emotions from their experiences. Big events are great personal experiences, and they are so much better when we create shared memories with our friends and loved ones.
Another grand celestial event, even bigger than a total solar eclipse and even more memorable and important, is coming soon. Jesus is coming back to earth accompanied by glorious clouds of angels. Now is the time to prepare for that magnificent event. Jesus demonstrated that preparation during the walk to Emmaus by sharing the meaning of the crucifixion with the two believers (Luke 24:13-32).
We can follow Jesus’ example and begin preparing ourselves by studying the Old Testament forecasts of Christ’s first advent to confirm the certainty of biblical prophecy and our assurance of salvation.
Once we understand the basics of salvation, we can share that good news with others, just as the Emmaus travelers did in Luke 24:33-35.
This news is too big to keep to ourselves. As great as the Second Coming will be for us, it will be so much better when we experience it with our friends and loved ones.
Connecting: What is a rare event you’ve experienced? Did you invite others to experience it with you? Were you disappointed if anyone declined your invitation? How did you feel when someone accepted it?
Sharing: In the resurrection story of Luke 24:1-12, why do you think the disciples did not believe the testimony from the women about the risen Christ?
1. The women’s story conflicted with their preconceived notions about the ministry of the Messiah
2. The women struggled to articulate their story accurately, so their “words seemed to them like nonsense” (verse 11)
3. The men couldn’t believe that Jesus would appear to women first, rather than them
4. Peter and John (see John 20:3-4) must have believed the women, since they ran to the tomb to see for themselves
5. They were afraid to leave their hiding place, and perhaps the women tried to lure them into danger
Applying: Is there someone in your congregation or study group who is working to increase your mission effectiveness in your community? Consider your part in this effort, and how you can add your ministry gifts to help this initiative.
Valuing: Are you still as passionate about witnessing for Christ as when you first believed? How do you personally overcome mission burnout and apathy? Recall the things that led you to love Jesus in the first place and see if you can regain some of that initial devotion.
~ Chuck Burkeen