Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sermon for 11/22/15: Last Sunday in the Church Year

Audio link: RIGHT-CLICK HERE to save the audio file.

Enough Oil

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

If only we had the same urgency of heart and mind to be ready for our heavenly Bridegroom, the Lord Christ, that we have pursuing all the things we think are so important in this life! If only we so eagerly awaited our Lord's return with the same energy and zeal that we store up for the start of football season or summer vacation! "Sleepers, wake!" says the Apostle, and in the Lord's parable: "Behold! The Bridegroom is coming!" Dear Christians, this is no time to be fooling around with how much oil is in our lamps! Now is not the time to wonder whether we can go get some oil and still make it to the wedding feast! When the Bridegroom arrives, the doors are shut! And while those who are outside may have been invited to the wedding, once the doors are closed, they are unknown to the Bridegroom.

Jesus tells this parable in order to save us. He speaks to us of these five virgins who are wise and the five who are morons in order to rescue us from the fate of those foolish ones. Likewise also the Lord's apostle St. Paul warns the Thessalonians and us about the Lord's coming so that we are not caught unawares but rather whether asleep or awake—that is, living or dead—we are ready to rejoice when the Bridegroom shows up. The world goes blissfully, ignorantly on its way, never considering that there will be a day when everyone will try to get into the wedding feast, but only those who have oil for their lamps will be behind those closed doors! Aside from the most die-hard atheists, doesn't everyone want to get to heaven? People fly planes into buildings and blow themselves up thinking that will get them straight to paradise! People pay money for preachers to tell them the steps they need to take to get themselves right with God and get to heaven on the Last Day. People live their lives to be as good as possible in the hopes that they might get in. But all such faith and trust in ourselves is a damning trust. So Jesus tells us about the wise and foolish virgins to rescue us from the religion of the world, the notions of our sinful flesh, and the seductive lies of the Devil. He preaches to us to save us and bring us to everlasting life.

The oil is what matters, but it’s not something we can get for ourselves. The oil is what Christ pours forth from Himself. The oil in our lamps is the Spirit and the Gospel and the Body and Blood and the water of Holy Baptism. The oil is the means of grace—the Gospel and Sacraments—and the Holy Spirit and faith, all of which go together and none of which can be apart from the others. To be ready for the Bridegroom is nothing other than to be filled with the gifts of Christ, to be filled to overflowing. The Lord always has more! “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The wise virgins are those whose lamps are full of this oil. You are ready for our Lord's return because your lamps are full of this oil. You have been baptized. You have been absolved. You have heard the Gospel preached to you. You have feasted on the Body and Blood of Christ. All these things will be given to you over and over until the day that you die and are with Christ as the angels cry, "Behold the Bridegroom!"

My dear Christians, that Day will come; those doors will be shut. If you believe you have enough oil, then tremble in fear at the prospect that you will be shut out on that Day! But if you know that you can never have enough oil; if you must make sure your lamp and vessel are filled; if you recognize your need to live every day in your Baptism, to confess your sins, to grow in the Word and feast at the Holy Supper, then rejoice! Wake up! The Bridegroom is coming! He comes to gather you to His wedding feast and take you as His own for all eternity. He has filled your lamp and shall keep it full. He’s coming soon. 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.

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