TEXTS: JOHN 16:16-22; 1 PETER 2:11-20; ISAIAH 40:25-31
CHRIST BLESSES US WITH LITTLE WHILES
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


To those who are elect…according to the knowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you (1 Peter 1:1-2). Amen.


Seven times in our Gospel – “a little while” is expressed. The Greek word is “mircron.” Jesus said - A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me. So some of His disciples said…”What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about?”


Dear Christians, you do know what people talk about concerning life’s “little whiles”. Generally the older you are the deeper the understanding. For me trips to South Dakota bring to my mind the “little while” of home town life and boyhood blessings - the “little while” of university years that quickly flies away. For me the “little while” of being single lasted for over thirty-two years. 


Since Friday, the “little while” of God’s gift of marriage now numbers 33 years. It includes the “little while” of raising a family but just like that children are off to college and work, and raising families of their own. There has also now been the “little while” of serving you as pastor for a quarter century Life is full of “little whiles” that God gives to us – “little whiles” that quickly pass away. As year follows year the pace seems to quicken so that looking back on six or seven or even eight or more decades can seem like just a “little while.” You do know what this means. How did it happen that the years so quickly wound their way through all those places and all those people and all those pursuits in your life? Now, here you are! How quickly God has brought you to this day and hour – to this time and place? It is good to reflect on life’s “little whiles”. It is better to reflect on the “little whiles” Jesus spoke of.

 

FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – APRIL 17, 2016
TEXTS: JOHN 16:16-221 PETER 2:11-20ISAIAH 40:25-31
CHRIST BLESSES US WITH LITTLE WHILES
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


To those who are elect…according to the knowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you (1 Peter 1:1-2). Amen.


Seven times in our Gospel – “a little while” is expressed. The Greek word is “mircron.” Jesus said - A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me. So some of His disciples said…”What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about?”


Dear Christians, you do know what people talk about concerning life’s “little whiles”. Generally the older you are the deeper the understanding. For me trips to South Dakota bring to my mind the “little while” of home town life and boyhood blessings - the “little while” of university years that quickly flies away. For me the “little while” of being single lasted for over thirty-two years. 


Since Friday, the “little while” of God’s gift of marriage now numbers 33 years. It includes the “little while” of raising a family but just like that children are off to college and work, and raising families of their own. There has also now been the “little while” of serving you as pastor for a quarter century Life is full of “little whiles” that God gives to us – “little whiles” that quickly pass away. As year follows year the pace seems to quicken so that looking back on six or seven or even eight or more decades can seem like just a “little while.” You do know what this means. How did it happen that the years so quickly wound their way through all those places and all those people and all those pursuits in your life? Now, here you are! How quickly God has brought you to this day and hour – to this time and place? It is good to reflect on life’s “little whiles”. It is better to reflect on the “little whiles” Jesus spoke of.



Some of His disciples…were saying, “What does he mean by a little while’? We do not know what He is talking about.”
Jesus responded, Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.

 

The “little while” Jesus declared in our text has both an immediate meaning and an extended meaning. He spoke these words on Maundy Thursday, the night He first served them His body and His blood under bread and wine. Soon there would be a few hours in a garden, a few hours on trial - a few hours brutally suspended on the tree of the cross. It was just a “little while” really – before no one would see Him in the thick darkness of the tomb.


And then in a “little while” – on the third day - they did see Him again – risen from death! Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! He spoke peace to them and showed them His wounds – He absolved their sinful failures – He taught them. Their sorrow was turned to joy by the first-born from the dead!


Yet, He would not always appear visibly to them. As He said, “I go to the Father.” Forty days after His glorious resurrection from the tomb, He ascended on high, departing from their sight. He promised to be with them forever but it would not be a visible presence. Just before His teaching on “little whiles” Jesus assured them that it was to their advantage that He go away and send the Spirit of Truth who would continue to bring His presence to them (John 16:7, 12 – 15). Jesus said, “He will not speak on his own authority…He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”


And so the “little while” of our text is also the whole span of time in which the Holy Spirit bears witness to Christ Jesus and bestows His gifts. The “little while” of our text is these last days until our Lord’s Second Coming. It is the entire length of your earthly life until you walk through the valley of the shadow of death. During this time Jesus said, the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.


The world will rejoice…the world takes joy in today’s pleasures or tomorrow’s promised earthly dreams. The proud claim is - we will do such great things - we will be so happy! The world also finds pseudo-joy in the church’s trials – even adding to them. But after a “little while” the euphoria of the world turns to emptiness!

 

The world will rejoice and you will be sorrowful…you see, as the church is in labor, it often seems as if there will never be the birth of full and lasting joy. There are better little whiles - times of accomplishment and celebration - times of rest and joy. That is surely a good and thankful thing for the church militant – the church on earth. But here there is also trouble sufficient for each day. All through our time in this world, there are “little whiles” of stress and sorrow - “little whiles” of loss or lingering pain that can seem unending. What is true for the Church is also true for the Christian. Whether married or single, whether young or old, we all experience such “little whiles” and will continue to do so. The Church weeps over her sins and over the world’s decay and for the miseries of her neighbors in a fallen world - or at least she should so weep. You will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. Yet the joys of this world at the expense of Christ’s own are so very temporary.


Not so with the joy that follows the “little while” of sorrow in Christ. As Jesus said, “I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” What an infinite promise! Joy without end – eternal pleasure – blessed delight with no doubt, no dread, no disappointment! How can we understand the weight and the reach of His words? Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. Amid all the hollow promises of this world – Jesus issues one that is pregnant with eternity and with His faithfulness. Amid all the “little whiles” of this passing world – Jesus promises an “eternal while” in which the source of our joy is joined to us. You see, the little whiles of your life are not isolated one from another. They hold together in Christ and the pull of the whole movement is going to the Father.


This movement forward toward unending joy for you flows from the “little while” of Jesus’ going to the Father. The Word made flesh came from the Father full of grace and truth. He came to defeat death by His sacrificial death! And if Good Friday then Easter – if Easter then Ascension – if Ascension then Pentecost – if Pentecost then on and on past your death together with Christ in Baptism to your rebirth with Christ in Baptism. Christ speaks to His disciples and to us of the restoration of all things that He has won for us and that He delivers to us.


That is what the Holy Spirit declares to you today. That is how complete the restoration is! That is how unending your joy will be. You will remember none of the anguish of this little while so great is the joy to come! As Jesus said of the woman giving birth…when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.


How quickly God has brought you to this day and hour – to this time and place. So often we sinners thirst for a different “little while” than we have right now? It is easy to feel like the “little while” we are presently living is somewhat lacking in value and purpose – too complicated – too conflicted – too confining? Even as we pray for help and make necessary decisions for the future, our lack of contentment and our lack of gratefulness in each “little while” is sin indeed. But the little whiles of our life are not isolated one from one another. Nor are they isolated from Jesus Christ who is our life.


As Christ and His disciples had their immediate “little while” of weeping and lament so will you. Pilate will not crucify you, but the devil will hound you. Beloved I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against your soul. The Christian life is a battle and every Christian must bear temptations and adversities and carry the cross Christ assigns. In your trials, God would bring you to the point where you cannot help yourself – just like the woman in travail. He would bring you to the point of recognizing sin and its wages of death in you so clearly that you also see that only He, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not faint or grow weary. He would bring you to that point to bring you Himself – always more of Jesus - as your life moves forward and upward! So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you!


Beloved Christ’s resurrection brings lasting joy! He knows of what He speaks when He declares, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalm 126:5). Because He has gone to the Father, the kingdom you receive as He covers you with Himself in Holy Baptism is not just for a little while. It is a joy that no one will take from you! Because He has gone to the Father, the heavenly food He feeds you at His table holds value not just for a little while. As often as you eat this bread and drink this come you proclaim His death until He comes. Because He has gone to the Father we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way he opened for us through the curtain, that his through his flesh (Heb. 10:19-20).


All of this is reason to live your Baptism in your present “little while” - to live as people who are free – as servants of God. All of this is reason to sing Jesus Christ our salvation. His death has been death’s undoing – and yours shall be like victory!


In the name of Jesus, AMEN.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a