Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
What Will Pass Away? - November 25, 2012 - Last Sunday in the Church Year (Proper 29) - Text: Mk 13:24-37
This morning we move to the end of our present church year. At the same time, we continue to move ever closer to our final day on this earth. Perhaps you have never thought about it this way, or had it put in this perspective; from the moment of our conception, we are destined to have only a short time on this earth. Our time on this earth will end, sooner than we know and probably sooner than we might expect, thus it is important, and even imperative that we spend our days on this earth getting ready for our eternity in heaven.
In our text for this morning Jesus gives us more signs of the coming of the day of Judgement and what that day will be like. Thus, we are encouraged, with the imperative, to be ready. According to Jesus’ words in verse thirty-one of our text, and these are words to which we will cling, “Heaven and earth,” that is our present, physical living quarters, “will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Certainly we will want to readily cling to that which is permanent, His Word. And so, we spend our time on this earth watching.
What do we watch for? We watch for signs. We started talking about this last week, but we need to continue this week. We do watch. We are a visual society. We watch television. In a way we may “watch” the radio. We “watch” the newspaper. We “watch” magazines. We watch the internet, Facebook, MySpace, google, Yahoo and the like. We watch for information to keep us tuned in to what is going on in our world. For some of us, we watch the sports section and the comics section of the newspaper, along with the obituaries.
We go outside and we check the thermometer, we watch the clouds, we watch the wind direction and wind speed and we use this information to help decipher the weather, as if anyone can accurately decipher and predict the weather. But we do watch the weather, perhaps looking for the best time to picnic, or to go hunting or fishing, or to do our gardening.
We watch the stock market. We check stock prices. We check to see how our mutual funds are doing. We check the interest rates to make sure we are getting the best return for our investments, our IRAs, our 401Ks, and so forth. We look to see when is the best time to invest or to buy or sell. And certainly, an added benefit of this watching is that this would be in keeping with being good stewards of the blessings which our Lord gives to us.
We watch and as we watch we “interpret” these things we are watching. We interpret what we see according to our own knowledge and understanding of how these things might affect us in our own lives. Most of all, let me remind you that, while all this watching may be meet, right and salutary, this watching is simply and only for our lives in this world. All this watching is fast and fleeting. All this watching will soon pass away. Certainly, there is something more important for which we need to be watching.
Our texts for last week, our texts for today, and yes even our texts for next week as we begin a new church year, all remind us that the end of the world will come. In the first article of the Apostles’ Creed we confess that we believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. We confess that we believe, not only has God created, but He also continues to preserve His creation. The only thing that keeps this world going is the almighty power and hand of our good and gracious Lord. The end of the world will come. We will see it when the universe collapses into itself, that is we will see the end of the world happen with the removal of the all preserving hand of God.
The end of the world will come. Jesus outlines some of the events which will occur at the end of the world. At the end of this world we will see the angels of heaven sent out to gather the Lord’s elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. He will send His angels to gather us, who, by His Word and Holy Baptism, have been given faith, that is, have been elected and made a part of His Kingdom.
The end of the world will come. We will see it when we see the Son of Man comes in great power and glory. Certainly, this will not be something easily missed. Certainly, our Lord will not need any satellite coverage or global media, no tweeting, you tubing, or facebooking, when He returns. His return in great power and glory will be such that all people will know that this is the day.
And when the end of the world comes, we will see it and we will stand to be judged. Our Lord will separate the sheep, the believers, us, from the goats, the unbelievers, those who continue to deny Christ and refuse and reject His good gifts and blessings. And our message is that this day will come, sooner than we know and sooner than we might expect. So, what do we do?
We realize that now is the time; now is the time to get ourselves ready for this coming. There will be a time when it will be too late. There will be a time when there will be no more opportunities for becoming a Christian. That time will be when Jesus comes on the day of judgement. On that day, as we are told in John’s revelation, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, however, on that day, it will be too late for those who have refused and rejected Him up until that hour.
Because we do not know when our time will come, now is the time to get ready. It is true, we do not know when our last hour on this earth will be. Open the newspaper. There are many of you, I am sure, who check the obituaries. I can tell you this, noone listed in the obituaries knew that it was their last day, their last hour, their time, as we say. Thus, it is important, it is imperative, that we are at all times ready for our time to meet our Lord.
It is said that there are two certainties in life, and those certainties are said to be death and taxes. Well, I do not know if these are both certainties, but I do know that there is one certainty, that is that the end of our time on this earth will come. The end of our time on this earth will be, either at the time of our own death or at the time of Christ’s coming. And we do not know when either of those times will be.
Yet, there is another certainty. Jesus tells us plainly, the Word of God will never pass away. God’s Word is His Word. God’s Word is unlike any other word. God’s Word is a Word with power. God’s Word is a Word which does what it says. Let us take a closer look at God’s Word.
The Word of God is that word which is the Law. The Law is that Word of God which tells us what we are to do and not to do. The Law is that Word of God which gives us boundaries to keep us on the narrow path, which keeps us out of trouble, which shows us how we have not been faithful and have not kept His Word. The Word of God is a Word which is intolerant of sin. Yes, we are in the final days of this world. We see time and again how the people of this world do not want to hear the Word of God, but they want to hear what their “itching” ears want to hear. What we need to hear is the fact that we have not kept the Ten Commandments, we have not done what we are supposed to be doing and we have been doing what we are not supposed to be doing. We have sinned and we continue to sin, as we confess, in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We are by nature sinful and unclean. We are spiritually blind, spiritually dead and enemies of God. Left to ourselves, there is no hope.
Thanks be to God that His Word, which does not pass away, is also a Word of hope. His Word is a Word of Good News, of Gospel. His Word is that which gives forgiveness of sins. In the Epistle reading for this morning we are reminded to encourage one another, to keep ourselves in the love of God, indeed to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Jesus is the founder of our faith, that is He is the one who gives us faith, who puts faith in our hearts. He is also the perfecter of our faith, that is, He is the one who strengthens and perfects our faith and this He does through His means of grace, His Word, which never passes away and His sacraments, Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as well as Holy Absolution. Jesus gives us the gifts we need for eternal salvation. He gives us the gifts He earned on the cross. Yes, it is Jesus who lived perfectly for us in our place. It is Jesus who took all our sins upon Himself. It is Jesus, who suffered and died, who paid the price for our sins. It is Jesus who endured the cross, despising the shame of the cross and after His resurrection and ascension, is seated at the right hand of the throne of God, where He is watching over us, ruling over us and interceding for us.
Thanks be to God that His Word does not pass away, because it is His Word that gives life, even eternal life. Yes, when we are given faith, through His Word and though Holy Baptism, we are given life. Eternal life is something which is ours now. Certainly, we will not move into our eternal home until we fall asleep in faith, that is until we pass away in this present life. But the fact remains, we have eternal life now.
Thus, it is imperative and urgent that we believe and that we tell others who do not yet know of Jesus and His love for them. It is imperative and urgent, because, as we have said, we do not know the day nor the hour when Christ will return and on that day and hour it will then be too late.
The signs show that the end of the world is near. This fact reminds us of our need to be ever ready. We get ourselves ready by being reminded of the importance of taking God’s Word seriously, by reading and listening to it, and by believing it, because it will never pass away. We are ready when our faith is firmly planted in Jesus who promises never to leave us nor forsake us. Now is the time. May the Lord bless and keep you, and strengthen you in faith so that you might be found ready when your last hour comes. To Him be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.