S-1147 11/22/09 LSOY/3B (O) #599 LSB; (S) #609; L.S.#306; #308 (C) #52
Texts: Isaiah 51:4-6; Jude 20-25; Mark 13:24-37
Theme: “Ending and Dozing” (Mark 13:32-33)
Question: “Do you doze often?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Gospel lesson: “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:32-33).
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
Saints in Christ a story is told of a businessman who was building a bar right next door to a church. The owner also wanted to have some women dancers at his bar. The people of the Church were really upset with the building project and made their objections known to the businessman. The Church prayed that something will happen to the bar and be destroyed. The night before the grand opening a lightening struck the bar and burned it to the ground.
The owner was so upset with what happened that he sued the church for damages. As the court was in session, the bar owner said, “Your honor these Christians prayed that my business be destroyed. And now that it is destroyed I feel they should pay for the damages.” To which the Church responded, “Your honor we had nothing to do with it, this is an act of nature and we can’t control storms! We shouldn’t be paying any restitution for the burned down bar.” The judge mused over this for a while and said, “I will need to evaluate this more. I really don’t understand what is going on here. I have a heathen who believes in divine intervention and the power of prayer, but I have a church who denies the power of God and the power of prayers. Go figure!”
We may laugh at this story. But this is not a laughing matter. Even though the people of the church wanted an end to the bar, they dozed off when they had the opportunity to witness about God’s power and love in their lives. Many who claim to be followers of Jesus, have wondered from the truth and are no longer holding to that which is absolute truth—God’s holy Word. This is a sign of the end times.
Here we are again, at the end of the Church year. We have made a full circle and soon Thanksgiving Day and Advent will be upon us. Thursday we will gather with family and friends and will do three things—eat, watch football and visit with family. But that is not the only thing that will take place. Dozing and Ending also will take place. The dozing that happens as the tryptophane kicks in after eating the Turkey and the ending of the day and meal. Dozing and Ending, two themes found in our texts today - both redeemed and fulfilled only in Christ our Savior!
In our Old Testament reading, the prophet Isaiah gives the promise that Christ is coming: He is the “Light to the Nations” – He is that Salvation, He has drawn near to all the world - to every sinner - and although the earth will wear out like a garment and come to an end - the ending is just the beginning - His salvation is forever, His righteousness will never be dismayed. Our Yeshuah- Our Jesus is forever and His righteousness will never end. We who are clothed with that righteousness, who were laid in the tomb of His death and raised to eternal life with Him - through our Baptism - we are to never be dismayed. Why not? Because ETERNITY IS OURS.
Today, you have witnessed the ending and the beginning of a new life. Through the means of the Water and Word the Gerber’s—Chareen, Baylee, Ashlee and Bryson (mother and her 3 children) died to sin in the baptismal font and rose again to a new life by the mighty miracle of water and Word. Today, a miracle took place. And ending of life of sin and death and a new life of righteousness began by the power of the Holy Spirit. PAUSE.
Beloved in the Lord, do you remember as a child being carried by your mother, or taking your father’s hand? Do you recall going on an adventure with them! You asked, with the precision of a child, “Are we there, yet?” or “How much more minutes?” It didn’t matter if it was raining or getting dark, if we were tired - we were going there with the family and we were going to get “there.” Simple childlike faith/trust ruled the day. And what we realized, maybe later, was that the destination was not the main prize, but who was taking us!
Heaven is ours now, because our Yeshuah, our Salvation, He is forever, and His righteousness, not dismayed by the Cross, will never dim, diminish, or die, nor wear out; never be dismayed. The heavens and earth shall surely pass away - ah but He, and we who are in Him through Baptism, shall never die (John 11:25-26a).
Yes, the ending brought on by the grave gives way to a new reality, or maybe it’s an old one - the original plan - life forever with God - going through eternity with our Beloved - knowing He has us in the Palm of His hands. We will see earth and the heavens pass away, and we see that our Lord and our Salvation, He abides, and we get to be in heaven forever with Him. What a hope! What a promise! What a Gift! JUST FOR YOU!
Today we celebrate the end that is an eternal beginning. Jude, Jesus’ very brother, wants us to show mercy to those who are perishing, to those who doubt - yes, to snatch them from out of the fire. Yes, Jesus is able to present you as one who is blameless, without stumbling - and that is eternally so - His righteousness and salvation is yours. The King has transformed you - and you shine the glory of that newness. In that glory you are enabled to speak surety to doubt, the confidence (with faith) of Christ to doubting hearts, both in the church and in the world. Yes, every time you speak of His great love to doubting hearts, eternity, and more to the point, our Yeshuah, our Salvation, He brings another one along for the ride. And this is the ride that is ever and always, at His side. “Are we there, yet?” Of Course! For He is here - our Christ, our King - He is here with us.
But how can I know this is true, how can I be sure? You and I doubt, we fail, we fear and we falter. But Jesus says, “Behold the signs, like the changing of the seasons”. Know this, that when He comes, it will be at the Father’s directing only. Even He who comes does not know the time or the hour.
Now before we dismiss this too quickly - let us take comfort in and from it. Jesus tells us in v. 32 of our Gospel that even He does not know when He is returning to close out this age. What comfort! To use the child traveling with his parent’s analogy, Jesus models the simple trust in His Father that He gives, gives fully, to you and to me. He is not our good example, our older brother. Oh no! He is so much more: In His perfect obedience to the Father (And you thought that was only by His submitting to death on your cross!) Jesus continues to call us home by perfectly submitting to His Father and our Father, to His God and our God (John 20:17). He does more than “lead the way, or show the way.” He is the way, the truth, and the Life, and yes, no one comes to the Father, except, through Him (John 14:6). Here is comfort: In His submission to the Father, He brings us home for eternity.
As we look at our world today, we see so many things coming to an end. The good life in the USA is not what it used to be. All around, we hear of wars and rumors of wars. We see death and destruction. And we at times realize that the end is near, nearer than we like. The end of the world as we know it is here. Even the movie 2012 reminds us that the world is going to end; but not like the directors displayed it on the screen, but in accordance with the Word of God.
So what should we do with these two themes of Ending and Dozing? Should we be afraid of our failing health? Should we be afraid the way our economy is going? What about our children and their troubles... our grandchildren and their growing needs? Christ our King has us in His hands, so the trials we are enduring have an end. And, we and those we love who are found in Him - we have no end - and neither does His mercy in grace.
Jesus’ final command in our Gospel, to “Stay awake!” is not a fearful thing, but it is a joyous gift. We can stay awake. The tryptophane of the Turkey needn’t bother us. We are commanded to watch and wait for this coming in Glory of our Yeshuah - of our Salvation - for surely He is coming! We wait for what we do not see, true enough, but we wait in the assurance, in the surety of Him who was crowned our King with a Crown of Thorns, given the thorns of our Cross, numbered with the transgressors - that is with you and me - so that we might be raised to newness through His resurrection.
Ending and Dozing. We do a lot of it. Like the people of the Church in our opening story. Yet, we dare not do so. We are encouraged by our Savior, Jesus to Wait! And Watch! Yes, we’re on the journey with our Father. “How much more minutes?” The answer is joyous - for ever, and ever, Amen!
Now the peace of God…