TEXT: LUKE 21:25-36/ROMANS 5:4-13/MALACHI 4:1-6
“WATCH YOURSELVES…STAY AWAKE…
PRAYING…FOR STRENGTH TO ESCAPE…
AND TO STAND BEFORE THE SON OF MAN.”
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son. 


The powers of the heavens will be shaken. Doing that - shaking the heavens - is no problem for God!  On the 4th day He set the sun and moon and stars in place – to give light – to mark the seasons.   They didn’t get there at just the right distance for life on earth by accident.  The powers of the heavens will be shaken.  The One through whom they were created will use them as signs that the Last Day of this troubled world is here.  For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 


Time is not without end.  Neither is this passing world.   The powers of the heavens will be shaken.  All the interesting scientific stuff about constellations, and light years and black holes will be irrelevant then.  Interesting facts and dates of this young earth –learned in history class will fade from meaning then.  Jesus will bring history to an end.  The Day is drawing near.  They will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.


Stir up our hearts, O Lord!  Shaking the heavens is no problem for God.  The bigger problem is shaking our hearts.  We ask God to do so because we need help.  Our hearts are more easily stirred up by entertainment and knick-knacks than by God.  Our hearts are more easily stirred up by lust or greed or pride of place than by God.  We readily get all stirred up and then get all weighed down with the here and now – with the cares of life.  We are both stirred up and weighed down with preparing for many things.  We’re preparing for the rush of this season – we’re preparing for final exams and papers – we’re preparing for graduation – we’re preparing for job needs or family needs or health needs – we’re preparing for retirement.  We may even have funeral plans in order.  But are we preparing to stand before the Son of Man? 

 

SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT – DEC. 8, 2018
TEXT: LUKE 21:25-36/ROMANS 5:4-13/MALACHI 4:1-6
“WATCH YOURSELVES…STAY AWAKE…
PRAYING…FOR STRENGTH TO ESCAPE…
AND TO STAND BEFORE THE SON OF MAN.”
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son. 


The powers of the heavens will be shaken. Doing that - shaking the heavens - is no problem for God!  On the 4th day He set the sun and moon and stars in place – to give light – to mark the seasons.   They didn’t get there at just the right distance for life on earth by accident.  The powers of the heavens will be shaken.  The One through whom they were created will use them as signs that the Last Day of this troubled world is here.  For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 


Time is not without end.  Neither is this passing world.   The powers of the heavens will be shaken.  All the interesting scientific stuff about constellations, and light years and black holes will be irrelevant then.  Interesting facts and dates of this young earth –learned in history class will fade from meaning then.  Jesus will bring history to an end.  The Day is drawing near.  They will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.


Stir up our hearts, O Lord!  Shaking the heavens is no problem for God.  The bigger problem is shaking our hearts.  We ask God to do so because we need help.  Our hearts are more easily stirred up by entertainment and knick-knacks than by God.  Our hearts are more easily stirred up by lust or greed or pride of place than by God.  We readily get all stirred up and then get all weighed down with the here and now – with the cares of life.  We are both stirred up and weighed down with preparing for many things.  We’re preparing for the rush of this season – we’re preparing for final exams and papers – we’re preparing for graduation – we’re preparing for job needs or family needs or health needs – we’re preparing for retirement.  We may even have funeral plans in order.  But are we preparing to stand before the Son of Man?


Stir up our hearts, O Lord
for they are constantly in danger of growing cold.  Our prayers become few and weak and falter.  Concern for temporary things feeds complacency for eternal things.  It is easy to become complacent – to sacrifice nothing for God – to live as though we mattered most and as though our sins have no consequences.  It is easy to imagine that things will go on as they always have.  But the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Judgment Day is real and it is coming! 


That is what the prophet Malachi proclaimed to God’s people in his day.  Their worship was half-time and half-hearted.  Money had such a hold on their hearts that they withheld the tithe, giving God leftover sick animals.  They were into accumulation – more stuff – more security – more social climbing.  The corrupt priesthood assured the people everything was fine with marriage to pagans, defective offerings and indifferent worship.  Together, priests and people were comfortable with the status quo.  But God was not!  Behold the day is coming, burning like an oven when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble.   The day that is coming will set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 


Where then is the arrogant big shot – on that day?  Where now is vanity over fads and useless style?  Where now is the clever, crude humor of the celebrity?  Where now is the nature worshipper?  Where now is the survivalist?  Where now is the academic wiz?  Where now are the takers, and movers and shakers?  Where now are the confident and in-control secularists?  Where now is fleeting success?  Where now are you?  “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down…”  But what of the pressure and heaviness Jesus seems to add to that which weighs us down?


In speaking of the temple and its destruction Jesus also spoke of the Day of Judgment.  He made it clear that participation in that day is not optional.  America’s idol of “personal choice” will have no bearing on the matter.  You will not be offered an alternative.  You won’t be given more time – nor will I.  For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”


How then do you stay awake (stay in the faith) at all times?  How do you watch yourself so that your heart is not weighed down with dissipation (that is – broken apart with frivolous pursuits) and with the cares of this life?  When all is said and done, how are you able to stand before the Son of Man? 


At the bottom of our heavy hearts – weighed down with so many things – is of course – idolatry.  Because they are not anchored in true fear, pure love and full trust in God above all things, our hearts latch onto almost anything – in desire or worry or care.  We want to accomplish so many things.  We want to help in so many needs.  We want to control so many outcomes.  We don’t want to miss out on so many enjoyments. 


The truly sad part is that God never intended our hearts to bear the weight of all these idols.  Fear not little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom!  Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you.  Beloved, Jesus would have you light-hearted, not heavy hearted with anxiety.  Jesus would have your heart guarded with joy – not choked with the cares of this life.  Jesus would have you kick up your heels as Malachi described those who shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.  What a wonderful and cheerful description!  What a contrast on the Day of Judgment!  For you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.  You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.  Oh, how calves and colts and lambs leap in playful delight at the taste of spring freedom and fresh grass.


It is that same calf-leaping, heel kicking delight that Jesus also connected to Judgment Day.  Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. 


Beloved, the difference on Judgment Day between languishing and leaping, between ducking your head and raising it high, between sorrow and joy, between burning damnation and healing salvation is Jesus.    Luther said it as if Christ here says to us – When you see heaven and earth cracking apart, people more and more evil, and everything going out of joint, then be happy, be elated.  About whom?  About yourself?  NO, about me, for I am coming; it will be a bit terrifying…but…you will be delivered (Ibid. p. 42).


The powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Our hope on that day is the day on which the power behind the powers of the heavens was shaken.  Decades before Jerusalem was leveled Jesus was hoisted up in execution outside its gates.  His heart was perfectly stirred up in passion - passionate mercy for you.  At the same time it was weighed down with the sinful cares of life – everyone’s life.  The Son of Man stood before God in our stead with our sin and God’s wrath burned like an oven against Him.  Yet this day is chief among those causes for our rejoicing and our eternal hope.  His glorified body still bears the tokens of His passion – cause of endless exultation.  With what rapture will we gaze upon those glorious scars!


Now there is certain hope for you on Judgment day.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  His Word – baptizing you into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit will not pass away.  The Word of cleansing, releasing absolution – spoken into your ears by the command the authority of the risen Christ will not pass away.  His Word that feeds you with His body and gives you to drink of His blood for your forgiveness will not pass away. 

 

The day of His resurrection is chief among those calf-jumping, kicking up your heels days!  Oh, death where is your sting?  He who went under our judgment on Good Friday rose with healing in His wings on Easter morning!  He is the sun of righteousness.  The day of His mighty Ascension gives full and freeing strength to His command to lift up Your head when He returns.  The one returning as judge is the same Jesus who was taken up - with love so deep that He now lives to make intercession for you. 

 

He comes today not to weigh your heart down, but to raise it up and stir it up with His love.  So it is that the communion liturgy since the infant years of the Church has led Christ’s Bride to say, “Lift up your hearts” – “We lift them to the Lord.”  Your hearts are with the Lord for He is here with you.  The reason for this season of Advent is the sacred mystery of Who comes and for what purpose He comes.  It is the Son of Man pouring forth His life-giving rays upon this world for us.  It is the Son of Man giving us strength to stand before Him.   


For you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.  You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall…This is so wonderfully freeing!  This is solid reason for encouragement and endurance and sure and certain hope dear Christian.  God-fearing people - like you - know that they are as guilty as sin before God’s law.  God-fearing people - like you - know that their minds are not pure.  If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness that you may be feared (Psalm 130:4).  God-fearing people - like you -also marvel at the cleansing, healing words of the sun of righteousness.  You receive His Advent – His coming with thanksgiving.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  It is therefore good that we continue to pray – Stir up our hearts, O Lord to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve you with pure minds. 


In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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