It’s coming, alright! And I don’t mean Christmas. I mean the “advent,” the Latin word for coming-the coming of the Son of Man. He came once, about as lowly as you can get-a helpless infant with no prospects of having any kind of meaningful life. When he comes again, it will be entirely different. Trumpets, shouts of praise, angels filling the sky, the dead being raised all around us. He will return in majesty, honor, glory and power to take to eternal life in heaven all those who are prepared for his coming, his second advent.
So we take time at the beginning of each new “church” year to remind ourselves not that he came once in Bethlehem’s stable, not that he comes to us every time we hear the Good News of his rescuing us from sin and in the Blessed Sacrament of his Body and Blood, but that he quite literally is coming back. There will be an end to all this, all that you see. Every physical and material possession will in an instant become meaningless. It won’t make any difference whether you ever got an education or left high school for whatever reason. All the “toys” we treasure-the car, the boat, the house, the portfolio, the investments, the good retirement we have-won’t have any meaning, any worth, any attraction ever again.
Jesus’ followers asked about the timing of all this and we all know how important timing is. Get to the stores early or the bargains are gone. The sooner you have the preparations done for whatever kind of Christmas you intend to have are done, the sooner you can relax and enjoy all the parties and gatherings of the season.
Timing is important. To know when all of this is going to take place is critical to how we spend our time. Many a person has regretted not spending more time with a loved one once they are departed, but, of course, we didn’t know the time. Think about that for a moment.
Well the news for you today is that…. No one knows the time of this event. There is no one, well, there is one who knows, but no one on this earth knows. Jesus says that he didn’t even know when all of this would take place. This person to whom we ascribe the loftiest titles didn’t know when he would be returning to earth. Only the Father in heaven knows when it will happen.
What are the conditions before the timing? Like the days of Noah before the flood. People were having a good time. Good food; lots of good drinks. The routine stuff of life-birth, marriage, career, retirement at 500 years of age or less because they lived longer back then. The landscape of life back then could be exchanged for the landscapes of our lives today and you know what? Except for the “modern” stuff we have you wouldn’t know the difference. Of course, there was that crazy Noah, building that, what did he call it? “ark” in his back yard. Phew! That had been going on for 120 years and nothing happened. That is until that rain came. Then, of course, that ark began to jiggle a little as the water reached it. Not long after came that first knock, then a frantic knocking, then screams, and then deadly, and I do mean deadly silence. Now doesn’t that just create terror in your heart? Just what I wanted to create as I tell you about the timing of the coming of the Son of man again.
Then there were those farmers hoeing away at the weeds which wanted to suck up all the nutrients and moistures from the veggies and grains. You can just see them stopping occasionally to wipe their brows, check the time by looking at the shadows, and taking a little water from the jugs they carried. One stopped and looked. Well, what had happened to the neighbor in the field just across the way? Gone! Gone, just like that!
Or the two ladies grinding grains for their tortillas. Just chatting away about the weather, the children and grandchildren, about who was going to marry whom.. One turns to add a touch more grain to the hand mill, and wonders why the mill has stopped. The other person is gone, vanished without a trace. Without a trace, unless you know how it will be at the second coming of the Son of man!
How many of you take precautions today against unwanted visitors? You know, extra locks on doors, peep holes in the doors, bars on the windows, alarm systems, motion detectors. How many of you are cautious about making sure the house is locked up before going to bed at night?
Our society has changed. Growing up, we never locked the doors, not even when we went away from home. Now? Super protective. Why? You never know when a thief might be coming. Wouldn’t it be scary to wake up and find someone in the house? If you have known you would have been prepared. But, but, but you just can’t know that, can you? So we take precautions. Like a thief breaking into a house, so will be the coming the second time of the Son of man.
So now we have it, we don’t know the age, we don’t know the day, we don’t know the hour when the Lord of heaven and earth will return. However, our Lord Jesus does not want us to have a blasé attitude toward his coming back. You can count on it that he doesn’t want us to be afraid, to be in terror, or to have a sense of hopelessness because you can’t have your hands folded in prayer all the time. You can’t think pious, prayerful thoughts throughout the day Yet, he tells us to keep watch, be ready for his return.
I don’t know about you, but I know that I really wouldn’t want to face the God of the universe. I like the things I have acquired. I like my relationship with family and friends. I don’t want to give much up. But to keep watch and be alert and awake, could not mean that every instance of the day and night I have to be aware of God and his love for me. It means that I value my Jesus and what he has done for me more than anything else. I am a sinner who fouls my own nest and often is totally unaware of what I should be doing for my neighbors here or around the world. I am not even sure that I would recognize sin sometimes if it bit me. I am basically estranged from God. I don’t like God knowing what I do or how I think, but I can’t do anything about it. So I trust that my relationship with God is always alright because I have been baptized into Christ Jesus. All that Jesus did for me by dying on the cross-paying my debt to God, reconciling God to me, destroying death by entering it and breaking it and so much more-is mine, now, all the time. I live in a world where I did marry, do like to eat and drink, like to work, like to acquire stuff and toys and gadgets, need to have investments and pensions and so much more, but these are needed to live in this world. I am aware that all the sterling silver, fine china, crystal, cars, my health, my wealth is not of primary importance. Jesus is my Lord and my God. Without him, I do not exist. Without him and what he has done and does for me, I am a total enemy of God. Without him, I have no peace in war, no confidence in broken health, no hope as death approaches, and nothing to look forward to.
Today is the First Sunday in Advent in this the first Sunday of the new Church Year. The church, you and I and all believers in Christ, take time to reflect as we begin a year that we know not the age, the day or the hour of his coming again. We pause to take inventory of our priorities in this world. We pause to keep awake to his coming again. We look at his coming with joy, with the fulfillment of all promises he has made to us, and to the blessed reunion with all the saints. It’s coming. We are always in the “advent” season. Ahead us looms the dayspring from on high-the only person who gives life and hope is coming to rescue us.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Amen
This message from Rev.Walter Harms is brought to you by Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain View, Arkansas. For prayer or more information, contact Pastor Kenneth Taglauer by email: [email protected]. A Pass it On Project , You can read more at [email protected]