New Year Eve 2018- “Life In These End Times!” Luke 12:35-40

New Year Eve 2018- “Life In These End Times!”  Luke 12:35-40

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
The text for our sermon meditation is the Gospel account of St Luke, the 12th Chapter.

35[Jesus said:] “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

So far the reading.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ;

What emotions run through your mind and heart when you reach the end of something you enjoy?  What thoughts fill your mind when you approach that end?  Some people will look forward in anticipation for new things on the horizon.  Some people will look back in nostalgia wishing they could return to those times past.

I am connected to my brothers and sister by Facebook.  We send notes back and forth and encourage one another.  There are times though when we desire to return to earlier days when our mother was still with us on this earth.  One of us will post a picture or make a comment saying mom would have loved this.  Or they might say I really miss mom.  We look fondly back on those times when we were a family together with all the events of family life rolling around year after year.  Birthdays, Christmas, vacation time spent together, joys and sorrows shared together and borne together.

We must never forget to look back in order to learn for the future.  We must never try to live in the past or we will not be prepared for the future.  The past we must learn from is further back than the short life God gives to us.  The past from which we learn is the past which comes to us from the Word of God.

The Psalmist writes to us of an eternal God who desires all men to turn to Him.  The psalmist’s words come to us from the mouth of God who reminds men of their relatively short life on earth in the face of eternity.

“The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone and we fly away.”

What a picture we hear in these words.  A life of seventy to eighty years is called short.  The psalmist tells us those years soon are gone.  If our days are short, what kind of people are we to be?  We are to be a people prepared.  A people prepared to meet our Creator.  A people dressed for action with lamps at the ready, as Jesus tells us in the Gospel reading.

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.”

What may fail to recognize is the urgency that accompanies these words of God.  The urgency is for us, God’s people, to be looking forward and building upon the experience of the past.  The days we are given will come to an end at some time.  What is being done to be ready for that day?  How are you living as one expecting these days to end?  As the psalmist writes, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”  Have you numbered your days?

God has numbered your days.  Before one of those days came to be they were written for you in the Book of Life in which God records the names of His chosen people.  God chose you to be His child and heir from eternity.  He called you to be His child through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  He sustains your faith through Word and Sacrament.  He prepares you in heart and mind to make you ready for the day of Jesus Return.  As St Paul encourages us in his letter to the Roman Christians, so also we receive encouragement of faith and preparation.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”

Quite often we will truly wonder if God is for us.  We struggle with the trials of this life.  Trials we bring upon ourselves and trials brought to our doorsteps by others.  We might even ask, “Where is God in all of this?”  Has God withdrawn his help and protection?  Has God allowed this to happen to punish me?  What am I not doing right?

It is not what we have done or not done, but what God promised and accomplished for us.  We will always have events in life that we would rather not face.  Some are the result of our own actions, good or bad.  Some are the result of what others do, good or bad.  Paul reminds us that God placed his condemnation where it needed to be placed.  That place was on the cross of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.  Paul reminds us that Jesus died on behalf of sinners the world over.  More than that, Jesus rose from death on the third day showing God’s acceptance of that death for sin on behalf of sinners.

We come to the close of another year of God’s grace and mercy.  Many things have happened during these past 365 days.  Some were expected and some were unexpected.  We had mid-term elections in which incumbents received unexpected notice to vacate their office. We expected wars and rumors of wars to continue to be heard.  We heard cries for mercy from refugees throughout the world.  We celebrated the gifts of God each week and received encouragement for faith and faithfulness. Perhaps there was unexpected diagnosis or death in the family. Yet our Lord at all times encouraged us to lift our eyes above and look expectantly for His Coming. For deliverance from God is always at hand.

As we look back on this year of God’s grace and mercy, may we remember to look forward in anticipation of Christ’s Return.  We do not know the day or time, but we know the hour is near.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen