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Second Sunday in Advent

Luke 21:25-36

Rev. Andrew Eckert

Advent 2
Our Savior Lutheran Church  
Stevensville, MT

Sun, Dec 4, 2016 

Over the last month, you may have seen many people “fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world.” The people you may have seen are those who supported Hillary Clinton, but Donald Trump was elected instead.

To those who have been fainting with fear, the cause of their trepidation seems very real.  The only way to truly prove them right or wrong would be with the test of time.  Will president-elect Trump do the things that they fear he will?  We should put the best construction on his intentions, yet allow that even the very best intentions may not yield the best results.

But these fears for the future are not the kinds of things of which Christ spoke in the Holy Gospel.  He is not speaking merely about fear of political change or loss of favored status or something like that.  Throughout any century of the world, there have been people afraid of the future.  There have been people who do not like the direction that their rulers were heading.  There have often been people who believe that we are facing the end of the world.

But this does not mean that the Last Day will never happen.  There will be an end of the world.

Some of the signs of that coming are listed by Christ.  He mentions the heavenly bodies being shaken.  Sun, moon, and stars will show terrifying signs that the end is near.  What will that look like?  There are some indications in Scripture of stars falling and the sun not giving its light and the moon turning red like blood.  These will not be ordinary astronomical phenomena.  You will not hear people say, “Ooh, did you see the moon last night?  That was neat!” No, people will be filled with terror because these will be signs unlike anything we have seen.  The entire universe will display evidence that all things we have known are coming to an end.

On the earth there will be distress of nations in perplexity.  This is not perplexity over election results, but the terrors of seeing the roaring of the sea and the waves.  We have seen tsunamis, and they are scary enough.  But at the end we will see the oceans churned into a terrifying frenzy, as of God’s mighty hand sloshing all the seas of the earth at once.

In those days, people will have good reason to fear.  WE will have good reason to fear.  When the whole earth is shaken by terrors we cannot comprehend, that is an appropriate time to be afraid.

But Christ says, “Straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” In other words, be joyfully excited because you realize what is happening.  Know that the end is not a source of fear for us, because the One who comes at the end is our beloved Lord.

He will reveal Himself, riding upon a cloud, with power and great glory.  What a sight that will be!  He is the greatest sign of the end.  When He appears, people will feel one of two things: either extreme horror that the Lord whom they have hated has arrived to judge them, or else overflowing happiness because our Savior has come.  In other words, the saints will be glad more than they have ever been, but the rest of the world will mourn with great sorrow.

It all depends whether you belong to the Son of Man.  He paid for all men with precious Blood.  He died even for His enemies, which was all of us.  Yet not all receive the gift He offers.  So many do not want His redemption.  They want to stand on their own two feet and earn their way to heaven.  Or they reject God who tells them what they should do or not do, because they desire to be their own god.  For whatever reason, unbelievers push away the one and only salvation that God has provided.

But we saints have received the gift of faith from the Holy Spirit.  Therefore we repent of our sins and know what a great need we have for this Savior.  We also have received a verdict of innocence on account of Christ.

Therefore Christ comes, not to judge us, but to accomplish the final redemption.  We are already redeemed from sin and punishment because of the Cross.  But on the last day we shall be rescued out of this life of tribulation and sorrow.  He shall remove us from here to our final home, the new heaven and the new earth.  There no tears will trouble us.  No fears will cause us to tremble or lose sleep.

Therefore, what should we fear?  Nothing at all.  Yet fear we do.  We may make fun of others who are afraid of this or that, but we are no better.  Our sinful flesh makes us flinch at a shadow and hide from our own imaginations.  Rightly did Christ call our kind, “O ye of little faith!” Although we have saving faith to trust in Christ and His merits, yet we act sometimes as if we have no faith at all.  We act as if our future is not in the hands of the Almighty, and our future not secured for us by a most valuable treasure.

Truly there is real pain and sadness in this difficult life.  To shed a tear is not a sin.  To feel our hearts heavily burdened is no more than Christ sometimes did.  But we do it unnecessarily sometimes.  We agonize over loss or fear of loss so easily.  Worry grips us so often that it is a way of life for us.

So what shall we do?  Do what Christ says.  Straighten up, and raise up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.  Take courage because whatever signs of danger and catastrophe surround us, the result of the end is certain.  The end is Christ and His eternal blessings for us.  We can stand up under the weights of life as our tribulations try to push us to our knees.  We can stand because our Lord has purchased us.  We are His.

Stand then; do not cower.  Do not look at the shadows and darkness, but fix your eyes upon the Light of the world, who gave Himself for you.  Do not dwell upon what terrors might be in your future.  Remember that freedom from fear is most certainly your future because Christ will take you to the place where no fear can show its face.  Peace in Paradise is guaranteed, and the security payment for that guarantee is the Blood of the Son of Man.  Whatever may be, He is unchanging and immovable in His promises for you.

May He grant us such courage and faith, and forgive us our sinful fearfulness.  Amen.

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