SERMON FOR NEW YEAR’S EVE, 12-31-2012
Vicar Kyle Backhaus

Things can and do change in an instant. One minute you are enjoying a peaceful afternoon with family, and the next you may find yourself in an argument with loved ones. One minute you are at work or school and in the next tragedy can strike and the day goes down in history. In just a matter of hours the calendar will change from 2012 to 2013. 

Some changes can occur in an instant, without any prior notice, others occur with great eagerness and anticipation. With the coming New Year, many people look forward to change. People typically make resolutions as we enter a New Year to give them hope for a better year. The New Year brings with it a chance to keep our lamps burning as we get a fresh start.
 

SERMON FOR NEW YEAR’S EVE, 12-31-2012
Vicar Kyle Backhaus

Things can and do change in an instant. One minute you are enjoying a peaceful afternoon with family, and the next you may find yourself in an argument with loved ones. One minute you are at work or school and in the next tragedy can strike and the day goes down in history. In just a matter of hours the calendar will change from 2012 to 2013. 

Some changes can occur in an instant, without any prior notice, others occur with great eagerness and anticipation. With the coming New Year, many people look forward to change. People typically make resolutions as we enter a New Year to give them hope for a better year. The New Year brings with it a chance to keep our lamps burning as we get a fresh start.
 
But why do we need this fresh start? If we look back on this past year we see that we had so many hopes and expectations, like the many hopes we may have for 2013. We may have goals and plans to be better people, better children, better students, and even better Christians.  But in an instant, we fail. We may fail to fully trust in Christ as we seek more security in money afraid that the Lord will not provide enough for us in the coming year. We may allow the Lord’s name to be abused around us afraid that we will be ridiculed for standing up for God. We may even choose to disregard the Word of God. Remember how the people of Isaiah’s day said “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions.” Our hearts may not want to hear the truth of God’s Word about honoring government leaders, or paying taxes. Or God’s Word which says that from conception a baby in the womb is a person in God’s sight, or God’s Word about His gift of marriage which is for male and female. We long for smooth talk, which make us comfortable. We long for it, for it things do not ask us for sacrifice or to bear our cross. But by the end of and even at the start of January 1st 2013, we will have all sinned

We will not be ready and our lamps may be flickering low because of our sin. Jesus asked His hearers to imagine the slaves of a household who were waiting for their master to return home from a wedding reception.  In that day and age, there were no means of instant communication, no calls or text messages to notify anyone about their expected arrival time. The slaves learned what time their master was coming home when he showed up at the door and knocked. He also asked them to imagine a thief who comes and breaks in the middle of the night. Jesus said these things to put them on alert. To make them aware that no one knows the hour when He will return.

But Satan, who is the great thief, comes in an instant not to steal your money, or your cherished possessions. He would have no use for such things; instead he comes to steal you from the Lord. He comes flaunting our sin in our face, showing us that we are not worthy to be God’s people. He comes trying to convince us of our unworthiness. He comes trying to condemn us. But “who is to condemn?” Romans 8 says “Jesus Christ is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God who indeed is interceding for us.” This is a great truth but this does not mean that Satan will simply give up tempting us. Satan will try to sneak into the house of the Lord and will try to pry you away. He will seek to create divisions in this house, and cause arguments to arise among its members. He even tries to make us doubt Christ’s love and forgiveness, or that Christ will come again.

Satan wants to be the one to condemn you, so that when the Son of Man returns, you will not be ready. If you were left to yourselves Satan would be right, your lamps would be snuffed out and you would be asleep. But the love of Christ keeps you alert, for He is the one who died for you. He is the one who guards and protects you from the evil one. He has clothed you with his righteousness in your baptism, so that you may have eternal life. Jesus fills your lamps and the He trims the wick so that you may be ready when He returns.

So you may feel the burden of your sin, and see the light of your lamps flickering, but “who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Can the struggling markets, the mounting debt, aging, sickness, doubts, worry, or even personal goods separate us from the love of God? Romans 8 gives us the answer. It says “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” None of these things or any other thing will be able to separate us from the love of Christ. Isaiah 30 says “in returning” or in repentance “and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” God is our strength. When He sees Satan tempting us, or when He sees our struggle with sin, or when He see our lamps burning low. He comes to fill our lamps with oil and trim our wicks.  For Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches.”  Here Jesus tells us that He is the one who does the work, that He is the one who provides all that we need in this life even till the time of our death.

Verse 37 says “He will dress himself for service and have them recline at the table, and He will come and serve them” Christ has done just that. He put on the flesh of Humanity and took up the sin of the world and died as the ultimate offering for sin. He continues to serve as He invites you to His table to receive His Body and Blood shed for you, for the forgiveness of your sins.

Many of you may have many hopes for the New Year and in a matter of seconds those hopes and plans can unravel, leaving us disappointed and dismayed. But no matter what the New Year may bring remember the words of the Collect. It said “In the New Year, abide among us with Your Holy Spirit that we may always trust in the saving name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  You can trust that Jesus Christ has clothed you with His righteousness in your baptism. He keeps your lamps full and trimmed so that you may be ready, wherever He should return.

 

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a