Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
We wait around all the time. Perhaps at this time of year you have been able to reflect on those new year’s resolutions you made in 2017 and vowed to get around to doing in 2018 and have already thought 2019 will be the year. What hear this Advent season and in our Gospel lesson today is that the Kingdom of God will not wait around. God does not always wait for us to get our act together and for us to be as prepared as we would like. Heaven and earth will pass away, God’s Kingdom will come, the Lord is here.
Advent is a time for such preparation though. Are you ready for Lord and His kingdom to come? We speak and act of one who knows when we are sleeping, of if we’ve been bad or good, and truly our Lord does. But he does not tell us to be good for goodness sake, but rather knows our sin and still He comes to you out of His goodness and still gives you gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation.
The preparation that we receive this Advent season is to repent, to confess our sin. For we see the signs of the Kingdom that is to come. This is what St. Paul shares with us Romans 15 today, that the Word made flesh comes to us that we might have patience and comfort, which brings hope. He brings that because we are impatient and want everything now. It is ironic how much we put off things and yet for temporary pleasure and trivial matters become impatient. We want things now, we want changes now, we want results now, we want to move on to the next thing now.
The patience of the Scriptures however is that the Lord has been working out His salvation since the foundation of the world and throughout history, among all His impatient people. He has slowly been working things out until the time was just right and He sent forth His Son in the womb of the Virgin Mary to take on our sin and death.
In the mean time, we are called to struggle against sin, to wrestle with those things that easily entangle us for we ourselves have one who has conquered for us already, Jesus. God would use earthly problems to shake you and to point you always forward to this day. When earthly life seems unglued – by chaos in society – by horrific wildfires – by serious sickness – by draining disappointments – by significant change – Jesus would direct you to the cosmic end-time changes He here describes. To those with ears to hear Jesus uses many signs to point to the passing nature of our lives on earth and of every earthly kingdom. He uses many signs to point to His eternal kingdom – to His coming again! That’s why He continues to minister to you now – to keep you in readiness for His return to reign.
So, stay awake! The struggle to do so is daily – a drowning and rising again struggle. Our hearts can actually long for a good bargain more than for this awesome day. Our hearts can give much attention to posturing and planning and providing and playing on this earth – and little attention to prayer. But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 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.
That is why we pray in the Collects the Advent season – “Stir up our hearts, O Lord to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son…” Our help is in the heart of God which is seen in the sending of His Son. Your help and your hope are not found in your own heart but in the heart of the root of Jesse – the Son of Man. Son of Man is Jesus self-designation and it points to His passion.
This is the center of God’s Kingdom. The Kingdom of sin, death, and the devil, and our sinful selves is finished, even as we struggle. God is always at work in redeeming that which passes away to Him in His Kingdom which does not pass away. With patience and comfort of the Scriptures, we have hope through this world and beyond our troubles.
As the Advent season continues, we look forward to the Advent, the coming, of our King. Yes, all things will pass away, especially sinners, but you have the Word made flesh that never passes away. You have the Word made flesh present in the comfort meal that more than satisfies for a moment but gives for eternity. You have what God has provided in the fulness of time, God’s promised fulfilled in His time and by His Word which endures forever. And if that Word is given to you, then by faith with the patient endurance of Jesus you too will never pass away but join in the Kingdom of the resurrection.
As you so pray – awake in the faith – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Raise your heads. Lift up your hearts! Pray, Thy Kingdom come. And let our Lord do His work in forgiving and redeeming you. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.