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Watch And Be Ready

December 1, 2019 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: Matthew 24:36–24:44

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
December 1, 2019
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Advent 1
Watch And Be Ready

"But concerning that day and hour no one knows.
Neither the angels of heaven, nor the
Son, but only the Father.

But as things were in the days of Noah;
just so will be the advent of the Son of
Man.

For just as in those days before the Deluge people were eating and drinking, getting married and giving in marriage until the day Noah entered the ark, and were unaware until the Cataclysm came and washed them all away;
just so will be the advent of the Son of
Man.

Then two men shall be in the field,
one will be taken and one left behind.
Two women will be grinding at the mill,
one will be taken and one left behind.

And so watch because you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

But know this that if the master of the house had known what time the thief was coming he would have kept watch and not allowed his house to be burglarized. Therefore you must also be at the ready because the Son of Man will come at the hour you do not expect." (Mt. 24:35-44)

 

 

In today’s gospel we learn how God’s economy works.

Jesus teaches us that this world will continue to go on as normal day after day and year after year, until it no longer does, until the Son of Man returns.

Now our minds, made drowsy with sin, neither like nor agree with this program; and so hear the word of the Lord: Watch! Be ready! Because the tsunami of final judgment will come when no one expects it.

Do not risk dancing with the dead culture, which is no different today than in the days of Noah. They did not believe Noah’s message. They could not wrap their collective brain around a coming cataclysm that would wipe out all who would not repent; all who would not enter the Church of the Ark.

It was too frightening, too fantastic, to say nothing of interfereing with their plans. And so they communally rejected Noah’s preaching as fake news! Cooked up by a religious fanatic who only wanted to control other people’s behavior.

Do not believe that!

God created the world by Christ, redeemed it by Christ, and will bring it to a screeching halt by Christ.

Scripture teaches: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1)

And, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (Jn 1:1-3)

And so what God created, and redeemed, he also has the right to judge.

But no one can predict the End, nor will anyone even see it coming until it is too late!

And so watch and be ready.

How do we do that?

Not by listening to radio preachers like Dr. David Jeremiah who turn these closing chapters of St. Matthew into a sci-fi, political thriller.

Then how do we do it?

We are doing it now. We have entered the Ark of the Church “by grace through faith.” (Eph. 2:8-9) We are now in the safest place of all, inside Jesus by baptism, and he inside of us by his Spirit.

As such there are three advents the church marks.

First is the Christ’s advent into the flesh.

This appearance changed the course of history!

All history, all time and space, all things visible and invisible hinge on this sovereign and solemn birth that we recount each Sunday with the words, “and was made man”.

As often as lips of clay confess those thrilling words let us prostrate ourselves and commune with the dust that forms us -- as a sign of our comprehension, recognition and boundless praise for the great love wherewith he loved us, and gave himself to us and for us. (Eph. 2:20)

The 4 weeks of advent, represented by the 4 advent candles, are meant to recapitulate what tradition tells us was a 4,000 year time-span between Adam’s Fall and Messiah’s Birth.

As the true believers waited for the Light to dawn by lives of reverence and repentance, even so the church marks this season as one of much needed contrition and remorse.

A time for taking inventory of our high crimes committed against the good God, and the cruelty we perpetrate against one another by our dark deeds. By intoxication, sensuality, quarrelling and jealousy.

Repentance comes first.

It is the pre-requisite to faith.

Because if we do not believe in our hearts that our sins have alienated us from God … and exploded the bond of our common humanity … then we have no need to watch, be ready, or to celebrate the Lord’s benevolent birth.

The second advent the church celebrates is the Lord’s liturgical entrance into the eucharistic assembly each week. The reason the pastor traditionally comes out among the people to read the holy gospel is to demonstrate that by these sacred words Christ is now in the midst of his people. That it is Christ who is speaking. Christ who is charming his fetching Bride and drawing her close with words of nuptial love.

As he comes to us by Word he also comes by the Sacrament. Every eucharist is a holy remembrance of the Lord’s death, and an installment of his final advent. Though we commune with him now by the “hidden manna”– the time is coming when we will no longer need Scripture or Sacrament because we will see him face to face; and lean our weary heads upon his consoling breast. (Jn 13:23)

But for now we do need these things! And so come to the “mountain of the house of the Lord”. Let all peoples, of all nations, stream to this high and holy altar of God, higher than the highest mountains, so that we might learn his lofty ways, and walk in his soaring paths.

Let us turn the swords and spears of our sins, into the plow-shares and pruning-hooks of righteousness and purity forever – then we will be among those who welcome his final coming, with heads held high.

The third and final advent of Christ is his coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead. At that time everyone will reap precisely what they have sown. Either sin which leads to death, or obedience which leads to righteousness (Romans 6:16); and whatever choice you have made now, will be eternally confirmed then.

And so St. Paul says in today’s epistle: “The hour is already upon us to wake from our slumber, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

The night is far spent, and the day is at hand!

Let us, then, lay aside the works of darkness, and don the armor of light!

Let us conduct ourselves properly as in daylight!

Not in orgies or intoxication.

Not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality.

Not in quarreling and jealousy.

But clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision to gratify the passions of the flesh.”

Watch, O Virgin! Be ready, O Holy Church!