Sunday, December 09, 2012

Sermon for 12/9/12--Second Sunday in Advent

The Comfort of Chaos

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

The world is a mess. The rich get richer and more selfish; the poor get poorer and more selfish. The economy is in the tank; crime is on the rise. And it wasn’t any better way back when. Things were just worse in different ways. Drought, plagues, epidemics, wars, and all manners of calamity have been around since the fall into sin. The world that obsesses over its problems has taught the Church to do the same. The reason these things are going on all around us is because the Last Day is near. And Jesus has told us. So repent of not being ready. Repent of being afraid and worried. Repent of your sins.

Today we hear about Jesus showing up on the clouds of heaven with glory and the earth being shaken and everyone dropping in fright. What a terrifying prospect! But what does Jesus say about it? When you see these things happening, lift up your heads! Your salvation is near! So what if the world is coming apart at the seams? Rejoice! It means the day is getting closer when Jesus will return and rescue us from this world of sorrow and tears. And that’s the main thing we need to hear today. The Jesus who is coming back is the same Jesus who came on that donkey to be arrested and crucified for sinners. Jesus did not come the first time to save us, only to come again to condemn us. Jesus is always all about saving sinners.

Jesus gives further comfort and hope when He says, “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away.” Everything around us is crumbling to dust. It breaks, rusts, fades away. Still we love to attach ourselves to our stuff in hopes that it will last forever. We know it won’t. But the words of Jesus—the words that declare you washed and a child of God in Baptism, the words that declare your sins forgiven in Holy Absolution, the words that give the body and blood—these words last forever. Our Lord calls us away from the things that don’t endure, and He directs us to that which does: His Word.

Jesus talks about all these signs in the heavens. Think about this: on Good Friday, when the Son of God died for you, the skies were darkened and the earth shook. On Easter morning, the ground shook again, cracking open a tomb from which our Lord strolled triumphant. At His Ascension, Jesus was lifted up to heaven and hidden by the clouds, and the angels said He would come back in the same way. The Last Day is always connected to Holy Week and Good Friday. Between His first coming and His second coming, the Lord’s words call us in faith away from the way the world lives. The Savior of Good Friday is the Savior of the Last Day; He is the same Savior who comes now in His church to comfort you with these words, to drive from you all fear and worry, and to call you to lift up your head and be ready to receive Him. And what does that look like? Live as a redeemed child of God. Serve as the Lord has called you. Love and serve your neighbor. Be here in the Divine Service where Christ rescues you from your sins and doubts and fears and worries. Come to hear and learn His Word in His Church, for your comfort will be great.

Jesus says that when you see the leaves appearing on the fig trees, you know that summer is near. The world being a mess is a sure sign our Lord is coming soon. So be ready—not by ignoring the signs or worrying over them. Be ready by being what you are: a baptized child of God. The Lord Himself has made you ready. That means when Jesus comes again, His saints don’t run and hide like the world is going to do. Instead we stand tall and rejoice that our salvation has come. We rejoice that the Jesus who came once to die and rise for us is coming back, for He is coming to make all things new and to give us eternal life! 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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