Luke 21: 25 -36
Signs Of The Times.
My Sisters,and Brothers in Christ,
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of All our hearts be acceptable in thy sight-- our King, Our Strength and our Redeemer !
In true English fashion,I will begin this Sermon,with a comment about the weather! This has been one of those years when the weather seems to have thrown the seasons out of whack!....remember how cool it was in late August? Nice for walking or travelling short distances-not to hot ,but terrible for further afield,such as down the Thames or swimming...I, missed those end of Summer activities. Then it became warm for the month of September. Just in time for school to start,and for many
to go back to work! But it cooled off again in October! And sometimes we turned on the heat inside a bit early! Then came November... the first few weeks were unseasonably warm..then suddenly its as if below zero – the leaves are gone from the trees and we are getting ready for Winter/s snow.....
It's the first Sunday in Advent !...but look, last week,as I was leaving my home, I saw something that totally surprised me! On the tips of the branches of a large Geranium plant,were little buds ready to burst forth,and a few pink blossoms! Early blooming springtime
flowers totally confused!.....and you know, WE are confused as well! What do we look for?....
Today's Gospel, first Sunday in Advent- Luke 21: 25 -36
Jesus told his disciples ,as they stood outside the Temple of Jerusalem, just before the Feast of Passover,about the signs of his coming and what to look for!
Sadly he had to tell them that the temple would be destroyed.... Four decades later the temple that they loved and worshipped in was destroyed,when the Romans beseiged Jerusalem.
Jesus' answer to the disciples question,however,..”when will all this occur?held out a promise which was to have a twofold fulfillment ! He did tell his disciples not to be fooled or led astray,by many who would come and speak in His name,and say that the time was near.but He would give a sign or assign a season of events whch would herald a restoration !
Jesus said there would be signs in the Sun,theMoon, the Stars which would make people on the earth shake with fear.Then.....THEY WOULD SEE THE SON OF MAN APPEAR, coming in the louds with great POWER AND GREAT GLORY!.He also said when these things begin to take place,they should stand up,raise their heads, because REDEMPTION would be near !
Now,if this were a movie script being written for the masses who enjoy going to “Disaster Movies”,the people,no doubt would be warned by some hero to run away and hide or else find a way to rally the people against some terrifying threat. Win the battle save the people from doom.... and all would live happily ever after.
This,however,is no movie script.... and as 21st Century disciples of Christ...Christians are not warned to run away, or rallied to fight either. Instead we are invited to STAND AND RAISE OUR HEADS TO SEE THE REDEMPTION OF GOD'S SON AND GOD'S PEOPLE!
The logical question then... what are the signs that we can look for that this is about to happen?
Some say that the signs are already apparent, in the floods and other natural calamities that seem to occur more frequently in recent years. Some look at wars,and earthquakes and famines and say that the end is near. Jesus said that the signs are like those buds that appear on a fig tree,in the Spring to warn that summer is near.... but then you think of those buds on the Geranium plant- so confused by this year's weather they try to sprout
and bloom in December when Winter is coming on! Could our confusion be so commonplace and expected? After all Jesus said we do not know the day or the hour! Only God knows when all this will happen!
So our task is to be on guard, keep awake, and stay alert at all times, to pray for the strength to endure all that will face us, so that we may stand before the Son of Man. Jesus warns us not to be discouraged , or so weighed down with anxiety over what might happen to us in the future that we are caught unawares by the events of life. But keep the faith, trust in God, and wait for the Lord with hope and expectation. For heaven and earth may pass away, but,he says,“my words will not pass away! In other words - “IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN!”
After all, what have we to be afraid of, really? Not from God, or of the coming of our Lord, providing of course that we are living a life pleasing to Him.There may be plenty to fear on this earth , but what God brings is not judgment but hope and new promise for life everlasting.!
In the first lesson, the prophet Jeremiah introduces the promise of God's Messiah coming into our world, six centuries before Jesus was born in this way:-
,” Behold the days are surely coming, says the Lord when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous branch to spring spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is my righteousness.”
Through the coming of Jesus into our world, and with his resurrection from the dead, we are inheritors of this same promise! In our baptism into Christ, you and I have died with Him and been raised with Him, we have been redeemed from death and the devil, and received the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation!
Today we live in between the first coming of Jesus Christ and his Second coming.Very soon most people will be preparing for celebrating Christmas. Jesus appeared on this earth as a baby, in human form.Most people love Christmas...when Christmas carols are sung; we set up a creche,pin up a wreath.decorate with holly and poinsettias,maybe we sing Away in a manger and hark the herald angel sing....Altogether we manage Christmas so that little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay does not end up scaring anybody! We all enjoy the festive season and at Church we start a new Church year ADVENT ! Nothing wrong with that... but the second coming of Jesus is something else.It is apocalytic... which means it's an unveiling og the world that lies behind this world.It's a Revelation that tlls about the transition from this age to the next.
The transition is rough.It is so full of emergency according to the gospel scenario.,,everything breaks loose at the return of Jesus Christ.
Nations go to war and civillians run for cover.There is blood in the streets and famine in the fields. The earth shakes and the sea roars! There are signs in the sky above, panic on the earth beneath,stars falling,people dying of fright...a whole drumroll of disaster!
Then... in in the midst of all thisconfusion, ALL will see the SON OF MAN coming in a cloud with power an great glory! He is no longer a baby, but the risen Lord who died for the sins of the entire world of mankind...crowned with POWER and great GLORY to JUDGE and to SAVE.
God without disguise! As C.S.Lewis wrote : God without disguise who comes at us so unmistakeably that he will strike either IRRESISTIBLE LOVE or IRRESISTIBLE HORROR into every creature.
Very dramatic..but very clear..... Brothers and sisters
Do you believe this? Where do you stand right now in God's eyes? How ill you stand then?
We are no longer a people who read signs in the stars as they did back then.... We are too scientific. The sign could be as simple as modern ma's sudden certainty that a meteor or a comet will strike the earth or a broadcast on satelite television!.. but the attention of mankind on the celestial bodies is certain. (are you on the watch.. what time is is for you?)
Another sign is identified with the perplexity of the roaring of the seas. That sounds distinctively enviromental. Everyone seems to be getting a crash course on how melting ice caps are affecting our globe. The pollution of the aceans , disapearing life forms global warning etc...Tsunamis and earthquakes hurricane activity all causing great alarm. (are you on the watch?
Men fainting from fear and expectation of what is coming upon the world is another part of the sign...men are afraid of the dissolution of their empires, our society;changes in information technology; running out of resourses. in addition our society trains us to fear terrorists; epidemics... (are you watching...watchman what of the night?)
As a Christian how do you respond to all this? This of course is a rhetorical question. Each one can answer within himself..many are afraid because they either do not have or have lost the knowledge of God and His great love for us!
Brothers and sisters this world as we know it will come to an end...some believe its hard to stand on tiptoe for two thousand years and people become complacent. Do not let us fall into that trap however.
Fellow Christians,Jesus is saying to all of us todAY...
WAKE UP! STAY ALERT! STAND UP AND RAISE YOUR HEADS to the coming of God into the world into our lives. When the signs appear REDEMPTION IS NEAR ..REDEMPTION IS HERE...