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Advent 2 – Luke 21:25-36

by pastorjuhl ~ December 20th, 2012

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

            Mom and Dad were right to warn you not to hang around with “that crowd.” “That crowd” lived on the edge. They were arrogant and evildoers. Their hearts were weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness, and cares of this life. Martin Luther calls them “ill-bred masses.” You know who they are. They only care for themselves. They have no room for authority in their lives.

“That crowd” doesn’t notice the signs in the sun and moon and stars. They take no care to the distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves. When the end of days draws near, they will be fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. Why? 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.

It’s easy to hang with “that crowd.” They are the intellectuals who can’t bring themselves to surrender to a higher authority than self. They are the literate ones who are paid to make others look like fools while they get hip to the crowds. They live in nice houses. They break the rules. They appear on TV and newspapers. Why watch for Christ’s second coming when you have a reputation and income to protect?

Trouble isn’t far away when you are caught up with “that crowd. You forget to keep one eye open for Jesus’ return. Who wants to be caught staring at fig trees with green leaves? Who wants to be staring at the sky? Nevertheless, the Word through the prophet Malachi remains true. For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze…so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.

We live in the midst of the chaos of the end times. We are so caught up in what’s happening now that we forget to watch for Judgment Day. Watching for Judgment Day brings strange looks from “that crowd.” Who wouldn’t give a person the skunk eye for staring at fig leaves turning green on a fig tree? Only a fool walks around staring at the sky unless an eclipse happens. Nevertheless, every eclipse, every tsunami, every earthquake, every tornado, and every other natural disaster should prick our ears and focus our eyes on what is coming.

Jesus says, Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near…. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. “That crowd” wants the end on their terms, not Jesus’ terms. The Word who created the heavens and the earth and everything in it will bring Judgment to creation only on His terms. Being ready for Judgment Day doesn’t make sense to “that crowd” or any crowd. Yet Saint Paul says in today’s Epistle, whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Natural disasters give us hints of the hope of the End Times. It seems that only someone with mental difficulties would welcome a tornado or earthquake as the birth pangs of the end. Nevertheless, this is clear-headed thinking on the part of a Christian. There will be an end to the sinful world in which we live. There is hope because Jesus will end it all, just as He brought an end to sin and death in His death and resurrection.

Out of the flaming death of this world come a new heaven and a new earth. There we shall always be with the Lord, even as the Lord is always with us now. Christ is with us now in His Gifts given by His ministers to His children. Christ will be with us again in the flesh to resurrect our bodies, change them into perfect bodies, and destroy all we see and know about this world, and make all things new. That is the hope into which you are baptized. You will see the sun of righteousness rising with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet.

Judgment Day for the Christian is a victory dance. It’s a triumphal procession of comfort and joy amid the chaos of destruction. “That crowd” will have a one-way ticket to the burning lake of fire. They were too busy to care about keeping an eye out for the coming of the Savior. Baptized into the hope of Christ’s resurrection, you who are found waiting for the coming of Jesus will trade your maggot sack of a body for a perfect body. Wearing the garment of incorruption bestowed on you in your baptism, fortified with the Body and Blood of Christ, shriven from all sins, you will enter Paradise blameless and innocent.

This day is coming, sooner than you think. Keep an eye out for it. Stay awake. Don’t fall in with “that crowd,” lest you miss the Lord causing His majestic voice to be heard. When He speaks, you shall have gladness of heart. Believe it for His sake.

In the Name of the Father and of the+ Son and of the Holy Spirit

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