Monday, December 5, 2011
Stay awake, Your salvation Draws Near
Luke 21:25-36 (ESV) "And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves,  people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."  And he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.  As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near.  So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.  Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  "But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.  For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. “ Last time I journeyed into salt lake on the I-80 I think it was still there, the sign warning us of the end. Most predicted Harold Camping would be yet again proven a kook. And he was. Yet everywhere I went this last year, I met with uncertainty and heavy hearts. The slim chance he might have been right, was enough to put fear in many, a second guessing what if? And if it isn’t Harold Camping it is some Mayan Calendar, and if it isn’t that it is some massive catastrophy to be set off by the fact that the clock on your computer won’t know what year it is, because you know, the whole world is connected and controlled by that tiny little clock to the lower right of your computer, oh and it is the Millenium, no wait it’s next year. And it seems every year, something is happening to bring out the would be prophets to say, this is the year, this is the last. And thousands buy into it year after year, and some you run into look positively tired, worn out, exhausted from the hype, the hype they buy into year after year, a hype not accompanied with gladness, not anticipated with joy. They look with fear, and dread, paranoia. They stock up on food items, guns, generators. I’m not sure what they think those things are going to do for them on the last day. Why should you prepare for a day, by storing up food items to last you two years? It seems to go against all the good advice Jesus ever gave, about worrying about tomorrow. About worrying what you will eat, what you will wear, and the need to seek first the kingdom of God. Or the richman who builds barns to store his wealth, and his life is taken from him that very night. Want to prepare for the coming of Christ? Seems to me you should give that two years worth of food to someone who needs it. Spend the money on charity, support your church, and pray. Praying might help. It doesn’t seem to get enough play time in the lives of Christians anymore. Nothing could be more important, not for you and not for those around you. Truth is, we don’t know the time or the hour, the day. Christ warns us not to listen to those who say they do, who make their money off of fear mongering. We don’t have anything to fear for ourselves. We know that the day that comes is our salvation drawing near. Since birth we have been prepared, baptized in the waters of sanctification, made holy. With eager joy we anticipate our salvation, whether we see the great and glorious day before we die or not. We live with the signs. They are around us. The fig tree has blossomed even in the days of the apostles. We are well aware of the season. We don’t get mixed up in hype, but we stay awake. Salvation is drawing near. As time wears on, there are reasons for concern here and there. Parents worry for their children, friends for friends, perhaps, when we heed Christ’s words we even think on our enemies and pray for them, the most loving thing a person can ever do for another human. Fear and concern have their best outlets in prayer, even as our souls find comfort and strength, nourishment in God’s word and regular attendance to the Lord’s Supper where Jesus gives us his body and blood for the forgiveness of sins, where righteousness is freely given, that the prayers of a righteous man would be heard in the courts of a righteous, just and holy God. “Stay awake,” our Lord tells us, don’t be dragged down with dissipation and drunkenness. Oh those are the ways of the world. That is what the world does with fear and concern. Dissipation, that which this season of the year is so well known for, over-indulgence, overspending and squandering of wealth, drunkenness, as everyone begins to celebrate Christmas in anticipation of a day, upon which Christmas is hardly celebrated anymore. Christmas morning, I’m lucky to get ten at church. Always seems odd. I know you just went to church the night before! Two days in a row? What?!!! Yep. I have a feeling most people sleep in, unless they are those that think it is sacreligious to open the gifts on Christmas eve, when they are supposed to be opened. This Christmas morning bit is the invention of those who, after long boycotting Christmas as a satanic holiday, and some Christians still try that nonsense, decided that perhaps it wasn’t such a bad idea to celebrate Christ’s birth, but not understanding the Liturgical calendar thought the day started in the morning and not the evening before. There was evening and morning the first day. God knew what he was doing, he has our days start with a nap. See, I say this knowing you could go home after church on Christmas eve, unwrap presents, and then your kids won’t be waking you up at 5.Am making you too tired to go to church at 10. You can all get up at 8 or even nine now, get ready and come to church. Try it. But back to the main point. By the time Christmas comes, were too worn out with dissipation to even enjoy the coming of our messiah. The one thing Christ warns us about in this text. The twelve days of Christmas are all but forgotten, some make it a tradition to buy small gifts on each of these days, a box of Chocolates, or so on for the twelve days following Christmas. Retailers I think would be smart to capitalize on that, rather than thinking twelve days lead up to Christmas Christ warns us against such things. Not that there isn’t a place for celebration, joy and family. And if ever there was it is the birth of our Lord and savior who humbled himself to become one of us, that he might die in our place. This truly is something to rejoice about, to celebrate, even anticipate with a little joy. Perhaps even more so, new years day when we celebrate his circumcision, where he made the down payment for our sins, spilling blood in our name for the first time, sinless and yet submitting to a law that had no bearing on him, and providing the foundation for our baptism. We are baptized into his circumcision, Col. 2. See there we were prepared for this last day, when that little infant first injured in his manhood for our sins, later to die under the law for our atonement, will come again to rescue us from this world. So stay awake, yes celebrate, but stay awake, mark your day with prayer, keep watch, for the season is at hand, the fig tree has budded, and our salvation is drawing near.