Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sermon for 11/25/18: Last Sunday in the Church Year

RIGHT-CLICK HERE to save the audio file.

Be Ready

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

Be ready! Jesus is coming back. Though He has delayed these many years for the sake of the elect, He is coming soon. We are to expect His return at any moment. To give up hope, to live as though only this short life mattered, or as though the wait would last forever, is to throw your lot in with the devil.
The ten virgins all look the same. In weakness, they all fell asleep. This is not a parable about good works. This is a parable about faith. The foolish virgins had burned up their oil, exhausted their faith for something other than the coming Bridegroom. They figured that, if He was coming at all, they’d have time to make up for their sins. He came unexpectedly. The unprepared were shut out. They was no time for deathbed repentance. They were damned. He says, “Truly, I do not know you.” Be warned.
The wise virgins also were caught unawares. They had not kept the vigil, either. Somehow, though, they still had oil. They trimmed their lamps and were welcomed into the bridal chamber. Somehow, during the wait, they managed to never completely forget what they were waiting for, what really mattered, who was coming. They still had oil. That’s what faith is. It is not the outward appearance of good works, such as being a virgin. It is not a perfect keeping of the Law. Rather, the wisdom of faith is to remain aware that we are waiting, that this short life is not all that there is, that He who has bought us with His life is coming back.
There is danger in the waiting. Satan has his season. He has asked to sift you like wheat. Will your faith be consumed? At confirmation, full of zeal, we were bold to say with St. Peter: “Lord, I am ready to go with You, into prison and into death.” But before the night was over, we fell asleep on the watch. It was too bothersome to keep praying. When things get bleak, when the pressure mounts, we deny our Lord, hoping it will gain us the favorable opinions of men. Repent. Repent before it is too late, before the door is shut, before the night comes when no man can work. Like St. Peter before you, repent and be welcomed back by grace. Faith that lives by grace—that is, faith that does not rely on its own strength but is rather a submission to the will of God—will not be consumed in the waiting. God intervenes for His children. He wakes them, rebukes them, and forgives them. He fills the oil flask with His Word.
While we wait, He fills and prepares us by coming here and now in the Sacrament. He joins us to Himself by entering into our fallen flesh with His crucified, risen, and ascended body and blood. His innocence resides in our hearts. He is our King who rules in our lives. He died in our place, the Innocent for the guilty. And we proclaim that death every time we eat and drink His body and blood until He comes again.
Here is oil for your lamps; here is food for your soul! Here He encourages, nourishes, and strengthens you for the watch. The Bridegroom comes now with forgiveness, life, and salvation, with strength for the day. Heaven is opened, and He gently whispers into your ear, “Hang on. I have not forgotten you. I am with you always. Soon I shall return and complete what I began in you when I gave you My name in Holy Baptism!”
Be watchful. His return is not so far off as it once was. You have fallen asleep. But He loves you nonetheless. He bids you come to Him, to bask in His forgiving presence, to feast upon the very Bread of life! This is the only way to stay awake, to fend off the cold boredom of a long watch as we wait for His final 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.

No comments: