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12-2-18 Sermon

Advemt

Luke 21:25-36

Today is the first Sunday in . Advent is a season that looks in two directions at the same time. We look backwards to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, but we also look forward to the time when he will return to earth to set up his kingdom. Today we look forward to the end of history and his final return, which would establish his rule over every living creature.

The setting of our Gospel reading is just shortly before Jesus’ crucifixion, which means he was passing on some very important teachings to His disciples. These were some of his last words, and He is telling them that future times of world disaster will strike.

Nations will be in anguish. People will faint from terror. Now we may think to ourselves that’s been true since Jesus was on this earth. But Jesus is not talking about history repeating itself! Jesus is here referring to events, which will end with His return; and when Jesus returns there will be no repeating of history.

At His return people will see the Son of Man (Jesus) coming in a cloud with power and great glory!

When disaster is pending, it is our nature to run, or to hide, or to cower away from the approaching threat. As time gets closer to Jesus’ return, many people will be afraid. Religious terrorism and a world at war cause people to be afraid right now. So what should our response be? When these issues get worse and they will, how should we respond?

How should we prepare for the fact that Jesus is coming back to this world He loves and bring it to an end? Jesus tells us we are to, “Stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

When people around us lose hope, we are the ones to bring the hope of Christ Jesus to them. When the world situation gets darker, we are to be the light of Christ. Jesus tells us to stand up! He tells us to lift up our heads! Watch and be ready!

Two pastors were standing on opposite street corners with signs that read: Be prepared. The end is near. The other sign read: Repent. There is still time to turn around. Cars passing by would shout insults at the pastors, telling them to mind their own business; others make obscene gestures at them, but totally ignored the warning signs. About a mile down the road, sounds of screeching tires, and cars crashing could be heard.

One pastor said to the other: “Do you suppose we should make a sign saying: bridge ahead is washed out!”

We could get into a discussion of apocalyptic imagery and eschatology, but this is how I see it.

We are all waiting for the Second of Christ, when Jesus will return to set up the new heaven and the new earth. We are all wondering when that will be, but we know that it will happen on God’s timetable and not ours. It seems to me that if we have received the first Advent of Jesus and live out the faith we profess, the Second Advent of Christ will take care of itself. If we live as Christ calls us to live now, then whenever the second Advent occurs, we will be ready.

So instead of asking when will the end occur, I think a better question would be: “Am I ready for the second coming of Christ, whenever it gets here?” If you met Jesus today, would you be ready?

Often in a terminal situation, a doctor would tell a patient to get his/her life in order. When Jesus comes will my life be in order? What will He have to say to me when we meet face-to-face? If I live my life in faith, by the work of the Holy Spirit within me, I need not fear or be ashamed of meeting him when He does return.

The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once said that it is so much easier to become a Christian when you aren’t one, than to become one, when you think you already are.”

Faith in Jesus Christ as LORD, makes you ready for the Last Day. That same faith changes you each day until then. As your faith waits for your Redeemer, your priorities and expectations change. We live our days not consumed by the things of this life, which pass away. Rather we fill ourselves with what does not pass away. Jesus said: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away".

I’d dare say that most of us willingly sacrifice for earthly things we want, when we should gladly offer ourselves as living sacrifices to him who redeemed us with his blood. Rather than watching for what we can get out of this life, we must watch for our Redeemer. Knowing Jesus as our Savior means we can watch with eager expectation, for His coming to bring us home to heaven.