Advent 2 + Luke 21:25-36
There will be signs in the sun and the moon and the stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Jesus spoke these words during Holy Week, as He was preparing His disciples for His suffering under Pontius Pilate and His innocent, bitter suffering and death.
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. These were the events of Good Friday. The earth will quake, the sea and the waves will roar, and people will faint with fear. The people had a strong inner feeling or notion of future misfortune, catastrophe and great evil. As dark clouds roll in across the prairie, we know that a terrible storm is coming upon the earth; so it is with Jesus’ death on the cross, the sun and the moon and the stars will display God’s wrath and judgment. What Jesus promised has taken place. Our Redemption draws near, and for those who do not repent and turn away from the ways of the world are afraid, temporal death and eternal punishment are theirs.
The same is true today. The air is full of poison, cancer is very common, incurable diseases are everywhere. Flooding and Fire devastate land and people. Storms and tornadoes and earthquakes destroy property and devastate lives. War and rioting and bloodshed and rebellion take place in the streets. Brothers hating brothers. Nations rise against nations. There is no love among neighbors. We devote ourselves to excess eating and drinking. The theme, “Live for today, for tomorrow we die. Therefore, let us eat and drink and be merry.” Jesus has come, Jesus is with us right now, Jesus will come again. Our Redemption draws near, and for those who do not repent and turn away from the ways of the world are afraid, judgment and condemnation are at hand..
They will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For 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, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
The things of this earth will show us that Jesus is coming, that the end is near. We know that Jesus comes, according to His strict judgment, to condemn the unbelieving world through the waters of a flood and other signs of creation. Wew know that Jesus also comes according to His great mercy, not wanting anyone to suffer, God preserved believing Noah and his family, eight souls in all. We know that God drowned hard-hearted Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea, yet He led His people Israel through the water on dry ground, into the land of Cana, the land flowing with milk and honey, foreshadowing this washing of Holy Baptism. Through Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, God the Father sanctified and instituted all waters to be a blessed flood and a lavish washing away of sin, that we would have the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come in heaven.
For God uses the things of this world not only to condemn but also to bless, to show His mercy. The waters of Holy Baptism are not just plain water, but a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit. It is through this water, as St. Paul says in Titus, chapter three: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying.” Our Redemption draws near, and for those who believe in the commands and promises of Jesus will be saved. We have nothing to fear.
It is our prayer that in the waters of Holy Baptism, that God would behold us all according to His boundless mercy, that we would not be punished as we deserve. It is our prayer that God would bless us with true faith by the Holy Spirit, that even though the sun and the moon might fall out of the sky, we will not be afraid. It is our prayer that God would grant that we be kept safe and secure in the holy ark of the Christian Church, being separated from the multitude of unbelievers and serve His name at all times with a fervent spirit and a joyful hope, so that, with all believers in God’s promise, we would be declared worthy of eternal life in heaven.
This is why we pray today that God would stir up our hearts, that we would be ready at all times and in all places for Jesus coming, for He has come, He is with us now and He will come again. And as we are prepared, because our lamps are full of oil and our wicks are trimmed, we are able to serve God with pure minds and a clean hearts. Just as we sing in the Offertory, by Jesus coming we have a clean heart and a right spirit. We are not cast away from God’s presence and the Holy Spirit does not depart from us. We are not afraid. Our Redemption has come, is coming now and will come again. He comes to save sinners, that no one will be condemned.
God uses the things of this world not only to condemn but also to bless. As it is with the earthly elements of water in Holy Baptism, so it is with the earthly elements of bread and wine in Holy Communion. God the Father is the fountain and source of all goodness, who in loving-kindness sent His only-begotten Son into the flesh. He has given us pardon and peace in this Sacrament. And what is the Sacrament of the Altar? It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink. And what is the benefit of this eating and drinking of body and blood? As Jesus says, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Because of these words, when we eat Jesus’ body given in the bread and drink Jesus’ blood given in the wine, the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. Indeed, we give thanks to Almighty God, that He has and does refresh us through this salutary gift of Jesus’ body and blood. By His grace and mercy we are strengthened in faith toward God and in fervent love toward one another.
Our Redemption draws near. He is here now. In our eating and drinking of Jesus’ body and blood, we taste and see that the Lord is good, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love toward us forever. In the bread and wine, we see our salvation clearly; we are not afraid. During this season of Advent, this season of coming, we eagerly and confidently pray, “Come, Lord Jesus. Be our Guest.” Amen.