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11-18-18 Sermon

November 18, 2018

Mark 13: 1-13 

O God of all ages, thank You for who You are. You call the church to keep watch in the world and to discern the signs of the times. By Your Holy Spirit grant us the wisdom and the courage to proclaim Your prophetic word, and complete the work that You have set before us; through Your Son, our LORD Jesus Christ, Amen

Do you ever think the world is coming unglued? With all kinds of troubles, disasters, conflicts, and persecution, the world can be pretty frightening. But these things have been going on from the very beginning—since humanity’s disobedience, the peace and harmony of the world has been shattered. Because of sin, things are out-of-whack, and don’t work as God intended them to work. That we still have what we need is only because God is restraining evil, and protecting and preserving His Church.

So it’s not that these end-times signs are new and have never been seen before. That’s what Jesus is telling His disciples in our Gospel and they were shocked. They were even more disappointed because Jesus didn’t tell them specifics of when it would be. People today are still looking for specific signs.

Some look at the wars, the disasters, and the persecutions that seem to be increasing - and think we must be drawing close. But here’s the thing: even as our world and everything in it is coming unglued, our LORD is not. In the words from Mark, even in the midst of all the troubles our LORD still says, the Gospel will go out into all the world, to all nations, and the Holy Spirit will be at work, testifying to the cross of Christ, because that’s what the Gospel does. The Gospel goes out into the entire world not just announcing a feel good message, but the message that Jesus has overcome sin through His death and resurrection making forgiveness of our sin possible through repentance.

The Church isn’t here just to make the world a better place—which it does; but is so much more than MN nice. And there’s nothing wrong with the church making the world a better place. But when the next disaster happens, the next war, the next economic collapse, more hatred and persecution, then what? Well meaning people have been trying to make the world a better place but because of the wildfires of sin, without Jesus we make no headway.

The mission of the Church – is to proclaim of the Word of God; to testify that in Christ is the only hope when the world—your world is coming unglued. As this world dies, which science substantiates, only Jesus can give life.

The Holy Spirit isn’t just doing “cool, spiritual things”--His work is to direct people-- to connect people to Jesus. The cross of Christ is planted right in the middle of this world unglued by sin. The cross - the death and resurrection of Jesus - is our hope. Always has been. Always will be.

So in the midst of all these troubles spoken of by Jesus - when loved ones die, when you’re persecuted at school or at work, when wars continue between nations and hatred between people, when parents sacrifice their children in abortion and children euthanize their parents, when false prophets arise and mislead many - don’t be alarmed, Jesus says. These are the beginnings of the birth pains.

Yes, the pain is real-- trauma, agony . . . but then it’s over, and there are tears of joy, new life. The joy is more than the pain; otherwise, no woman would have more than one baby!

And so it is with the birthing of the new heavens and the new earth. Because of the cross-planted right in the middle of history; because Jesus’ death and resurrection, the final outcome is joy and new life. In Holy Baptism Jesus has already given us that new birth. We are reborn as children of God with the promise of eternal life.

So until that day comes, the Gospel will go out and the Holy Spirit will testify, through each one of us. Through your words, through your life, through the Spirit of hope who lives in you.

You have been washed in the waters of Holy Baptism and made new; you are no longer separated from God the Father by your sins but forgiven because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, our great high priest, therefore . . . hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Find ways to stir up one another to love and good works, meet together to encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

As the Church, we need to keep encouraging one another to persevere because it’s easy - when all the trouble comes - to give up. So as the last Day approaches, when conflicts increase, concerns of all shapes and sizes overwhelm us, we come together to worship in this place of peace, in this place of life, to be reassured by our Savior.

When you see the end approaching, do not be afraid. The one who endures to the end professing Jesus will be saved. Jesus endured to the end. And all believers remaining in Him will also. Amen