TEXT: LUKE 12:35-40
Vicar Christopher Stout

"But know this that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into.  You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” 

If you’ve ever had your house broken into – if you’ve ever been a victim of a robbery – then you know that a thief deprives you of more than things.  A broken window – a smashed lock – someone has violated your space.  A thief deprives of more than things – a thief deprives you of security.  A thief is one of the many things in life that reminds us of the lack of control that we have.  As we gather together as Christ’s Church this New Year’s Eve and reflect upon this past year’s events, we can be reminded of how little control that we have.  Yet, as we gather together as Christ’s Church this New Year’s Eve, Jesus reminds us that in Him, we have peace and assurance in insecure times.

TEXT: LUKE 12:35-40
Vicar Christopher Stout

"But know this that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into.  You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” 

If you’ve ever had your house broken into – if you’ve ever been a victim of a robbery – then you know that a thief deprives you of more than things.  A broken window – a smashed lock – someone has violated your space.  A thief deprives of more than things – a thief deprives you of security.  A thief is one of the many things in life that reminds us of the lack of control that we have.  As we gather together as Christ’s Church this New Year’s Eve and reflect upon this past year’s events, we can be reminded of how little control that we have.  Yet, as we gather together as Christ’s Church this New Year’s Eve, Jesus reminds us that in Him, we have peace and assurance in insecure times.

The ups and downs of this life can sometimes be unbearable.  Expectations of a New Year are sometimes met with great fulfillment and sometimes met with great disappointment.   Many take the New Year as a fresh start at life – a fresh start for a better diet, a better exercise regimen, or a fresh start to volunteer more. The attempts made at self-improvement are endless.  Advertisers and pop psychology love to convince us that life will be completely better and finally fulfilled when these self change and improvements are finally made.  A new year is often met with great expectations but a reflection on a turning year gives a perspective on how little control we have in this life and how resilient we can be to change.

The community of Shorewood was drastically reminded of the lack of control its residents had on July 22nd as floodwaters invaded many homes and basements that contained precious and irreplaceable belongings.  Like a thief, Shorewood floodwaters deprived many of more than precious belongings.  They took away security and feelings of control. 

Our nation was reminded of its lack of control on April 20th with the explosion of the BP oil rig.  Our world was reminded of its lack of control as devastating earthquakes and subsequent tsunami’s ravaged through countries like Haiti and Chili, killing hundreds of thousands and destroying homes and businesses that affected millions.  Billions huddled around the television set and were reminded of their lack of control as they watched 33 miners in Copiago, Chili trapped under 700 meters of earth.  Our reminder of our lack of control happens on a grand scale.  Other reminders happen on a smaller scale.  Each affects us in very real and very personal ways.  There’s sickness, money problems, depression and anxiety problems, family problems, congregational problems.  Paul asks, If God is for us, who can be against us?  It seems like an awful lot.  How little control we have! 

Our Gospel text leads us to these thoughts.  Stay dressed and keep your lamps burning, Jesus says.  You don’t know when the master of the house will come home.  The master of a house could return from a wedding feast 1 day, two days, 3 days, 7 days later or more.  Jesus’ encouragement has one problem; it’s impossible to stay awake the whole time the master is gone.  He follows this up by further destroying our security by comparing the coming of the Son of Man to a thief.  No security precautions, no armed guards or trained dogs will keep the Son of Man from returning to judge the living and the dead.  Like a thief’s coming, we will be surprised, caught off guard. 

Already living in an insecure world, this fact takes away our security in ourselves or in anything in this creation that invites our trust.  A reflection on living in this world and in our body of sin for this past year reminds us of our lack of control and Jesus’ words invite us to recognize the same.  

Staying awake is exhausting, having little control is frightening, but Jesus reminds us that in Him, we have peace and assurance in exhausting and insecure times.  Satan wishes these events in the world and in our lives to cause us to doubt God’s love for us.  What Isaiah pointed out in his day rings true for many today who are unwilling to listen to the instruction of Lord.  Many would rather have smooth things spoken to them or have illusions prophesied to them rather than hear about the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 30:9-11).  But having little control is a reminder that in Christ, we have peace and assurance in exhausting and insecure times. 

On Holy Saturday, Pilate gave those concerned about Jesus’ promise to rise again to seal the tomb saying, “You have a guard of soldiers, ‘Go, make it as secure as you can (Mat. 27:65. ’ “  But no Roman centurion or military guard could keep the crucified Lord in the grace.  The eternal security He gives us through the blood of the His cross was seen to be unshakable. Jesus commands you to stay dressed for action and he clothes you with his righteous and holy body in Baptism.  Or don’t you know that as many of you as were baptized in Christ have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27)?   Jesus commands you to stay awake as servants, yet He comes among you as one who serves.  Truly I say to you, (the Master Himself) will dress himself for service and have (His servants) recline at table, and he will come and serve them.  In this out of control world and in this out of control year, you have peace and assurance in Christ.  Christ comes to assure you of his love and forgiveness for you as He comes among you, dressed in flesh as true God yet true Man, as one who gives His own body and His own blood.  Does our lack of control, our loss of security, does tribulation, distress, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, does death or life, do angels or rulers, do things present or things to come, do powers, or height, or depth, or anything else in all creation separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord? No.  Like a thief, Jesus’ words deprive us of security in ourselves or in this world, but they also points us to Himself, to give us peace and assurance this year and every year until He comes again. 

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