Let us pray: Dear Savior: today as we begin another church year, keep our eyes fixed on You and the comfort of Your Gospel. Keep us focused on preparing our hearts to meet You anew while also inspiring us to reach other souls with the life-saving balm of the cross and the empty tomb. Yes, move us to work while it is day until the night comes when no one can work. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE COMING CHRISTMAS KING!
TEXT: Mark 13: 32-37
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
You kids in the congregation should be thankful! Why? Because you can still, literally, sleep like a baby! The older you get, the harder it is to sleep through the night without stirring or getting up early. When I was a little boy I remember staying with my grandparents for a few weeks each summer. I played, I ate great food—they spoiled their only grandson—and I slept through each night like the dead. When I was about 7 their house was hit by lightening in the wee hours. It blew a 3 foot hole in the wall, knocked out the power, and obviously made a tremendous “boom!” I slept right through it. In those days we didn’t have an alarm clock to wake us, we had my grandfather. I still remember him shaking me and saying: “Wake up! It’s time to get up!” Slowly I’d begin to stir, smell the bacon and eggs and groggily stumble out of bed, ready to begin another day.
Today is the 1st Sunday of Advent. The slate is clean. This day begins an entirely new church year upon which each of you will make your mark. And today it isn’t my grandfather but Jesus Himself Who is shaking you and saying:
WAKE UP! WAKE UP! IT’S TIME!
Time is our most precious commodity, but it is also the possession we most take for granted. When you’re a kid time seems to stretch on forever—especially when you’re bored or have homework to do. But as you get older it seems to speed up. Time seems to evaporate like the morning dew on a hot summer day. I’m at the middle-age time of my life when I get up and plan out my day. However, I usually find at day’s end that my “to do” list is only about half completed. Ten or twenty years ago I would have gotten it all done. But now either I’m a bit slower, or time has speeded up, or both! In any case, you get my point.
Back on September 11th of 2001, if you had known those terrorists were going to crash those planes, wouldn’t you have warned anyone and everyone who was within earshot? Wouldn’t you have tried to save their lives? Well, what’s the difference between that and the certainty of death? What’s the difference between that and the certainty of judgement day? As Christians we know with 100% certainty that everyone we see will die and face judgement day (unless the 2nd coming occurs first, and then it will be “only” judgement day). We don’t know the exact timing of any of this. But we do know it will happen. So, shouldn’t we be telling others about it? Shouldn’t we be warning them, cajoling them, and trying to convince them of its certainty? If we care enough about others to try to save their bodies, shouldn’t we care even more about saving their souls?
And what about your own life? Christ says in our lesson: “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” This moment will never occur again. This instant in time when God seeks to reach into your soul with the forgiveness and love Christ won for you on the cross will never repeat itself. So, when He says: “Keep watch.” Are you? Or are you putting off repentance for another day? Are you so busy shopping for holiday clothes, making holiday plans, decorating and buying gifts that you’re charging your soul just like you charge Christmas costs, and planning to pay it off at some future date that may never come?
Let’s face it, we’re not very good at watching. We’re not very good at getting our souls healthy. We’d rather spend time watching football, drinking beer, eating too much, and then sleeping away time by convincing ourselves that “tomorrow will be exactly the same as today.” But tomorrow is never exactly the same. Moreover, tomorrow may never come. Yes, I know we all play those odds. I know that usually nothing earth-shaking occurs one day from the next. But all it takes is once. September 11th proved that. And if you’re not prepared spiritually to meet Christ face-to-face, if you’re not prepared to face death head on, that one time will be deadly.
This is the time of the year with the long nights and short days that sleep comes a bit easier. This is the time of the year when lethargy sets in. To counteract that, today God is sending you and me an alarm clock. Christ is our alarm clock! Yes, today it isn’t my grandfather, but Jesus Himself, who is standing alongside saying: “Wake up! Wake up! It’s time!” So, listen to Him and get up! He has work for you to do! Amen