Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Sunday, November 28, 2021
Today is the First Sunday of Advent. Advent means coming or arrival. In this Advent Season, we anticipate celebrating Christmas Day, when God the Son, Jesus, arrived in our universe. We also anticipate the Day when Jesus will return.
In this second coming, Jesus won’t be a helpless baby, come to offer His sinless life on a cross to take our deserved punishment for sin. This time, the risen and ascended Jesus will come in glory to bring the final consummation of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom in which all who have trusted in Him will live, forgiven and new, with God eternally.
The First Sunday of Advent is always about the end times, times that lead to Jesus’ return. After these times, when Jesus returns, will come the single moment when the unrighteous, those who have spurned Christ and His offer of forgiveness of sin and new life through faith in Him, will be sent away from God.
In this morning’s Gospel lesson, Luke 21:25-36, Jesus shifts away from teaching the disciples (and us) about the destruction of the temple, an event that will happen about thirty-seven years after He speaks here, to talk about the last days of the fallen universe and all that will happen with it.
According to Jesus, in the end, the whole universe will convulse and thrash and deteriorate as it lurches toward its inevitable end. There will be no escaping it.
But, according to Jesus, neither you, I, nor the cosmos have any choice in this matter. In a fallen universe, even the righteous suffer.
So, when the end time comes, believers in Jesus or not, there will be no escaping the cosmic disruptions. As long as this universe clanks along, the words of Jesus about God the Father remain in force: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)
That’s why what Jesus says next in our lesson is so important. “At that time they [that means, the whole world] will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27-28)
For the follower of Jesus Christ, there is everlasting hope beyond the world’s end times.
There’s a lot of despair in our world today. We have a novel virus that continues to kill: two friends of my extended family died of the disease just this past week. And we are right to take appropriate precautions when dealing with it. After all, God calls us to exercise good stewardship over the bodies and lives He has given us and to love our neighbors. But COVID-19 need not lead us to despair. Nor should inflation, disruptions in supply chains, political gridlock, climate change, or anything else in this world lead us to despair. These are all SOP--standard operating procedures--in a fallen creation and have been since Adam and Eve slurped fruit juice onto their birthday suits. But Jesus is greater than all that might drive us to despair--over our own sin which condemns us, over our deaths, over the cataclysms that will befall this world, our temporary home.
Friends, today Jesus tells us that it’s going to get worse before it gets better.