Lift Up Your Heads
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus will return soon, and the world will be surprised and terrified. How about you, dear Christian? Will the coming of Christ catch you off guard? It shouldn't. Jesus tells us it's going to happen. Look around. You see wars, signs in the night sky, and all kinds of other terrible things in this world. What do you think when you see that? Do you think, as the world does, "How will I avoid this? How can I survive this? How can I get through this?" Is it all about you? Jesus is teaching you another way. He teaches you to say, "I see all these terrible things happening. The Lord must be near. I shall cling to Christ and His Word which never pass away." The world is doomed. It is coming undone, and it will keep doing so until our Lord comes. The Lord allows the world to come unraveled so that you will cling to nothing but the Word of God.
When you see these signs, Jesus tells you, "Stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near." When the world is in terror around you, stand tall as a Christian and know that your Lord is on His Way. Stand tall in a world that is shrinking away from trouble and terror. Stand tall and lift up your heads, for Jesus was lifted up for you, hung upon a cross for your sins. To a world that doesn't want to hear that it's sinful, Christ came and bore your sins. To "stand up and lift up your heads" is another way of telling you to believe and trust in Him, to confess that Jesus is your life, your redemption, and your salvation. When you see Jesus coming, don't be afraid! He's not coming to destroy you. He’s coming to rescue you once and for all! He who bore your sins on the cross comes to bear you home to paradise!
So how do you stand tall and lift up your head in a world that is falling apart? When you are surrounded by those who would rather run around worrying about all their problems, how do you stand tall and lift up your head? How do you live in faith when you are surrounded by people trying to drag you down and get you to only think of yourself? You stand and lift up your head by coming to the Divine Service. You stand and lift up you head as you hear the Lord's Name, which put upon you in Holy Baptism, spoken again into your ears. You stand and lift up your head as your pastor absolves you of your sins. You stand and lift up your head as you hear God's Word. You stand and lift your head as you open wide your mouth to receive Christ's body and blood for the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. Just as the fig tree is a sign that summer is near, so Christ's Word and Sacraments are a pledge and promise that Christ Himself is already here with us so that, when He comes again, it will not be a day of terror but a day of joy and celebration. You stand and lift up your head in faith by living in the gifts of Christ which prepare us for His coming in glory on the Last Day.
The holy season of Advent helps us to live as Christians because it teaches us to stop running around like the world and instead proclaims Jesus who comes to save us. Think about how the world does things. The world gears up for the so-called holiday season. The world runs around, spending more than it has and partying like there's no tomorrow. Then December 26 comes, and there's nothing left but long lines to return unwanted gifts. The holiday season has passed away. But in the church we celebrate Advent, a time of repentance and faith. When the world's holiday is over and done, we have the 12 Days of Christmas. The celebration is just getting started for the people of God. That's how it will be when the Lord returns. For the world it will be the end of all things. For God's people in Jesus Christ, our Lord's return is just the beginning of eternal life. Stand up, lift up your heads! Our Lord is coming. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.