Second Sunday in Advent + Luke 21:25-36 + December 4, 2016

Order of Holy Communion - Pg. 15
Hymn # 90 Come, Your Hearts and Voices Raising
Hymn # 73 Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates
Hymn # 95 Saviors of the Nations, Come

Introit - Pg. 54 
Daughter of Zion, Behold, surely your salvation is coming.
The Lord will cause His glorious voice to be heard, and you shall have gladness of heart.
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Jacob like a flock.

Micah 4:1-7
Romans 15:4-13
Luke 21:25-36

Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent
Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Thine Only-Begotten Son, so that by His coming we may be enabled to serve Thee with pure minds; through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Sermon on Luke 21:25-36

Grace and Peace be unto you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1)         When a fig tree begins to bud, everyone with eyes to see knows that summer is near. Jesus’ point is that immediately before His Second Advent, that blessed summer of everlasting life in the New Heavens and New Earth, there will be signs for those who have eyes to see them. He says, “There will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.” The cosmos will be darkened as the Lord spoke through Joel His prophet, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD” (Joel 2:31). The deterioration in the heavenly bodies will cause the oceans and seas of the earth to writhe in tumult as well. When men see these buds on the fig tree of time, they will understand precisely what is happening. Nations will be in distress. Perplexity and confusion will grip the minds of men. Fearful expectation of their imminent judgment with cause their hearts to fail. All those who had spent their lifetimes suppressing their consciences and ignoring repentance and the gospel will quail in terror, for that which they worked so hard to ignore as myth and children’s tale is about to come to pass. All those who wander with heads bowed down towards the things of this life will despair. Those who have built kingdoms of this world will mourn at their coming loss. Those whose hearts have been weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of this life will be shocked and dismayed to find that they cast their gaze toward the wrong objects in this life. That day will a more fearful and awful day.

2)         But not so for the faithful baptized. It is not an awful day of woe and judgment for those whom Christ has baptized and have remained faithful to the confession of His gospel. When the buds begin show on the fig tree of time, the faithful baptized are not to cast their eyes to the ground in sadness, nor are they to quail in fear that the judgment of all mankind is at hand. The faithful baptized, those who belong to Christ by faith, are to look up in joyful expectation. He says, “Now when you see these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draw nears.” The Christian is to rejoice at the thought of Second Advent of Christ because when He comes again He comes to fulfill every promise made to us in the Gospel. We certainly have our redemption already. We possess the forgiveness of all our sins. We possess eternal life. We possess our salvation from the debt of sin and the power of the devil. But we possess all these things by faith. We do not experience them physically. We cannot see them and experience these things yet bodily. But on that day, the day in which our Lord Jesus returns, He will usher in the new heavens and new earth we will experience what St. John sees at the end of Revelation. There John writes that God will dwell with us and “will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). When the earth begins to convulse, the seas rage, and the heavens go dark, these are not signs of woe and distress for you. They are signs that “the kingdom of God is near,” a kingdom of grace and glory in which we shall dwell forever with the Triune God who has saved us.

3)         This is what we look forward to. But it is not yet. While we are to wait in eager expectation for what St. Paul calls “the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19), we must also be vigilant lest we fall short of attaining our final redemption. Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” The generation of which Christ speaks is not the generation of men who stand before Him when He spoke these words, for they are all dead and buried. The generation which “will by no means pass away till all things take place” is the generation of the wicked throughout all the earth. David says in Psalm 12:7 of the saints, that God “shall preserve them from this generation” and in Psalm 14:5 that “God is with the generation of the righteous.” In Matthew 12:39 Jesus calls the unbelieving Pharisees “an evil and adulterous generation” who cared not for the Word of God but sought signs and wonders instead. The generation of the wicked and the generation of the righteous exist not just in one genealogical generation but throughout every age of the world, for in every physical generation there exists the generation of the wicked and the generation of the righteous. It is the righteous and the wicked who will not pass away until these signs occur and Christ returns. This is comforting for us because Christ promises that the generation of the righteous will continue until the end. This means there will always be a faithful remnant, the true church made of up believers in Christ, even until the end. But this is also warning that the wicked will endure as well until the end, always pestering the saints and tempting them to forsake repentance and faith in Christ.

4)         It is with this in mind that Jesus says, “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighted down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come upon you unexpectedly. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” While we wait for Christ’s return, we wait in the midst of a crooked and depraved generation that is curved in upon itself. The Christian still struggles against his own sinful flesh which desires to sin and wants what is contrary to God’s desire for us. St. Paul’s description of his own sinful flesh is a description of every Christian’s experience in the flesh. “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:15). Because our flesh is still sinful and decidedly against God’s will for us, we must fight the sinful flesh. St. Peter writes so that we “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Our sinful flesh wants to drag us down in what Jesus mentions in today’s Gospel: “carousing, drunkenness and cares of this life.” These are not the only sins we are to guard against. He names these three as illustrations of all of the sin with which the world and our flesh tempts us. You may not have a problem with carousing or drunkenness. But they stand for any sin of overindulgence of earthly things which dull the senses, food, drink, fleshly desires, and the like. Jesus’ point is that we are not to overindulge in the things of this world so that we lose sight of watching for His return through the study of Scripture, prayer, and good works for our neighbor.

5)         To these, carousing and drunkenness, which seem like obvious and obnoxious sins, Christ adds a third temptation which besets all the saints, the “cares of this life.” Just as carousing and drunkenness dull our minds so that we are unable to pray and hold Christ’s promises in our mind, so does inordinate care for the things of this life. This can be worry and fretting over your daily bread and all that is associated with this life. This can also be a self-pitying sorrow over trials and sufferings you are experiencing. Jesus knows that we must attend to the “cares of this life” because He is the one who has set us in our vocations. Being a father, mother, grandparent, son, daughter, employee, employer, citizen, and all our vocations have cares attached to them because our vocations are divinely-ordained offices through which God uses us to care for others around us. Jesus wants each of us to discharge our daily duties faithfully in whatever vocations He has given us. But He warns us to be on guard so that the “cares of this life” do not take our hearts away from faith in Christ, from studying and hearing His Word, from our life of prayer and good works. Your flesh might not tempt you to carouse and drink excessively, but your flesh does tempt you to overindulge for myriad reasons. Your sinful flesh does tempt you to worry and fret excessively over the “cares of life,” at times leading you to self-pity and even despair. Jesus warns against these temptations because they can lead your eyes away from the heavens, so that when Christ returns you find yourself unprepared through repentance and true faith.

6)         Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Christ your Lord wants you to remain close to His Word. He wants you to pray always, or as St. Paul says, “pray continually,” for by hearing the Word and praying you will keep your heart fixed on Christ, the one who will return to judge the quick and the dead. But He comes not only as Judge, but as the One who will bring redemption with Him for His faithful baptized. He comes in power and glory in the clouds to bring this wicked and evil generation to an end and thus exalt the generation of the righteous to everlasting glory. He comes bringing with Him the full kingdom of God, and the culmination of all His promises He makes to you in the Gospel. So lift up your heads, not only on that day, but on every day, as a reminder that that is the direction from which your redemption will come. Lift up your hearts in thanksgiving for all Christ promises to give you in that everlasting kingdom of joy, peace, and glory. He comes for you, the one whom He has baptized with water and word, the one He has fed with His body and blood, the one He has absolved by His Word.  He comes to bring you a treasure which will never rust, fade, or deteriorate: the kingdom of God and eternal bliss and happiness. For that, we give thanks and lift up our heads to wait in joy. Amen.

May the peace of God which passes all human understanding guard your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.


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