Monday, December 6, 2010

Sermon for 01 December 2010, Advent Evening Prayer

The Rev. Paul J Cain
Matthew 24:36-44
He Is Coming
Wednesday of Advent 1 (A)
01 December 2010
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

In the Name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jesus comes to you. That’s Christmas. The end of the world sounds very similar: Jesus comes to you. We live in-between. And still Jesus comes. He comes to us in the Word He gave us and in the Visible Word, too: Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, Holy Communion. Tonight we heard more about how and when Jesus comes to you, His people. Jesus comes at the End of Time, Now in Word and Sacrament, and the First time, on Christmas.
No one will ever be able to predict when the Last Day will be. And so we are to be always prepared and always faithful. We receive the Lord’s good gifts, we watch, we pray, and we serve anyone in need, whether their physical needs as fellow human beings, or their spiritual needs as fellow sinners in need of hearing the same Good News About Jesus.
Tonight’s Lesson and the text for our brief sermon speaks about Jesus’ Coming at the End of Time: 36"But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.
Perhaps the most obvious way to tell if you are listening to a false teacher is when he or she predicts the date for the Second Coming. Run away as fast as you can and never go back! We are to flee false teaching and false teachers. We are never to tolerate falsehood or those who twist, add to, or edit out parts of God’s Word.
Jesus has more: 37As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Jesus sets up a basic comparison between the judgment of the flood in Noah’s day and the final Judgment on the Last Day. What will it be like? People will be going about their business, not caring about the Lord, His work caring for us in Jesus, and our work of caring for one another.
An example would be the book and movie The Golden Compass. The sad purpose of this story is to introduce people to atheism, the belief that there is no God, and to try to give people meaning for life in a secular mindset of stuff: materialism. By the end of the third fantasy-world novel in this series by Phillip Pullman, the new Adam and Eve kill God, portrayed as a senile old man. This is blatant and dangerous unbelief on screen and in print. Unbelief is the reason for Judgment.
40Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Be prepared. Always be faithful. Those who teach the rapture would like us to think that the one “taken” from the field or the mill is the one the Lord rescues and that the one “left behind” will have a second chance to repent during the time of the Tribulation, one world government, currency, and religion, and the rise of a political antichrist. Complicated, huh? And equally untrue!
If anything, the verses about the two men and two women are ambiguous. We don’t know which is saved and which is left. What we can say for sure is that one stayed spiritually awake and was saved. The other did not have faith and faced judgment. Only eight human beings survived the Flood in the ark God commanded Noah to build. Every other human being perished. Why? Unbelief. God’s judgment is always, always upon unbelief—unfaith.
Therefore, stay awake. Don’t let the old evil foe break in and destroy your faith. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

How do we remain ready? Word and Sacrament. We live in-between the Second Coming and the First Coming. Since He ascended into heaven, we have been living in the last days, the time of the church. We believe that He will come again. We don’t know when, so we make use of the gifts God has given: The Bible, Baptism, Confession & Forgiveness, Communion, and one another: all that we are and have been given. We go to church because church is where God’s gifts are given and are in regular use. We also go to support and be supported by one another. You need one another. Pastors need their people and their people need pastors. And pastors need the advice and support of their brothers in the ministry. Now, Jesus comes to us in Word and Sacrament, helping us be prepared for His Second Coming.

And then there’s Christmas, Jesus’ First Coming, when He took upon human flesh. We call it the incarnation. Carne means flesh, or meat. It sounds silly, but Chili con carne always reminds me of Jesus, for He took upon Himself human flesh for me and for you. It also helps people remember that big word: incarnation. There couldn’t be a Second Coming without a First. There couldn’t have been an Easter without Good Friday. And there wouldn’t have been a Good Friday without Christmas. The Gifts of Word and Sacrament are possible because of Christmas. The faithful have no need to fear the Second Coming. Jesus comes. And it is a wonderful thing, for He comes for your benefit. Amen.
In the Name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.