Advent 2 + Luke 21:25-36 + Vicar Charles Lehmann
Comments welcome, as always!
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Beloved, today Jesus comes to you and announces the coming of the Summer. Do not listen to the world. As wind buffets your house and white flakes assail your face, you might believe winter is at hand. Do not believe it. Jesus comes with the end of another season, and His reign is endless day.
Jesus is a Summer Lord, and if you listen to His Words carefully, you know it's springtime. “Behold the fig tree. Whenever it is already sprouting leaves, you know that Summer is nigh.” For, beloved, it must be spring when we are so close to the advent of the King. Jesus is the King who brings with Him Eternal Summer.
Listen to the other signs. They are all around us. The oceans surge and thousands of homes are washed away. We look to the nations and our hearts faint at what may be coming for them and for us. These are fearful days. Days of wrath against your sin and the sin of the world. The great and dreadful day of the Lord is at hand, and what do we do?
We turn our eyes aside. We while the time away. We engage in the things of this world. Nausea, drunkenness, the cares of this life. Our eyes are cast backward onto the things of winter. Naked trees, cold blasts of wind, leaves putrefying under a seemingly pure coat of freezing snow. As much as we might like the sledding, the snowball fights, and the light passing through the icicles, winter is a season of death covered in deceptive drifts of false-purity.
Winter is a lot like us. We also live our lives in dissipation. We carouse and we engage in gluttonous excess. We ignore the need of our neighbor and stuff our own swelling bellies. Winter should come to us as a warning. It should reveal to us the evils of this world of which we should be afraid. It should give us a glimpse of that dissipation that will consume the wicked at Jesus' final advent.
Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. It's a fatalistic way to look at life. But when the world seems to be crumbling around you, your eyes are easily clouded from the glorious things that await you! Our life is always one of faith struggling with despair. And it's really easy to despair when everything seems so against you.
But that's Satan talking. He will throw at you every flaming arrow he can to make you think that it's not going to work out for your good, that God's not in control. If there's even a glimmer of Summer hope in your eyes, Satan will try to turn you back to the winter and the darkness that envelops that season.
He does not want you to see Jesus, the bright and morning star. He does not want Light to pierce the darkness. He does not want his head to be crushed at the foot of the cross when Life destroys death by dying.
You've all seen stars fall. You've all seen them blaze through the sky above Illinois farms. And they're going to keep doing it. That's what happens in the springtime of our Lord. The very heavens will be shaken when the Son of Man rides the clouds with glory to claim you as His very own.
When Jesus was nailed to the cross of Golgotha, the sun was shaken and did not give its light for three hours. The earth broke open and the dead were set free. When the Light of the World was crucified on His holy hill, there was no need for sunlight. The Lord, King, and Author of Summer and its Light shone forth gloriously from the crest of Calvary. And ever since He broke forth from death in His resurrection, the signs of the coming Summer have continued!
Even now the heavens are still shaken, the sun and moon are eclipsed, and the stars fall from the sky. Even now the universe is waiting for something, expecting something, crying out for something, earnestly hoping for something.
When the Son of Man comes on the clouds of heaven, all the children of God will be revealed. They will become manifest, and so this revealing, this apocalypsing is accompanied by signs that are very similar to the signs that we saw when Jesus was revealed to be who He is. He is the Summer Lord who brings you and all who believe into endless day, the great and glorious day of the Lord which will continue for ages unto ages.
All the dead rise. The moon turns to blood, and the sun does not give its light. The great and glorious day of the Lord is at hand. You are gathered to Him on the clouds of heaven.
You see, that's what creation is hoping for. You. It's you that creation is groaning for. It is you that creation wants to be revealed.
Do not live in the winter as you await the eternal sunshine that Jesus will bring. Though His return will be an occasion of great mourning and grief and pain for those who have cast aside his gifts, it will not be so for you.
The sin that still claws at you, wounds you, and hurts you will be destroyed forever. Springtime and all its signs will pass away just as night ends when the sun rises and fills the world with glorious light.
At that second advent, the one where Christ takes you home, the light that once broke forth from his crucified body will win the final victory. Sin, death, and the power of the devil will be crushed. The majesty hidden in the body that was scourged, pierced, and buried under the weight of your sin, will be revealed when you receive His gifts of life and forgiveness without remainder.
Winter will end. The snow will be melted. The dead leaves will blow away. You will live in the heavenly Jerusalem and dine on the fruit which grows from the tree of Life. The Sun will have passed away and its light with it, but in the Endless Day at the consummation of all things, Jesus, the Eternal Son begotten of the Eternal Father, will be your light forever and ever.
The tree of Life once bore the crucifed body of God Incarnate. And the body and blood of the One who there gave Himself for you, you will now receive from this altar. The river of life which flows from His side has already washed you when you were drowned and resurrected in the waters of Holy Baptism.
Lift up your heads and look to the sky. Jesus is coming. You do not look up when you are afraid. When you are filled with fear you mask your eyes with your hands and turn your back to the one that brings terror. But you are not in Terror of the One who has made you His own and given you every good gift that He won for you on the cross.
Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates, and the King of Glory will come in!
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.