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Christ's Reappearing


Watch for signs of the end of times in your own heart. The devil never tires of trying to destroy your confidence in Christ. Jesus said, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.” It is so easy to become careless with spiritual matters. We can let the pleasures and the worries of this life become so enormous that we forget about spiritual matters and find ourselves ill prepared for Christ’s arrival. The devil would like nothing better for you than for you to become so wrapped up in your successes or your favorite forms of entertainment that you leave Christ completely out of your life and your heart. Such people are unprepared for his return.



“Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”


“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they 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.”

He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

“I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”


Dear Friends,


It is clearly the Christmas season. Christmas tree lots are full. Washington Road traffic is nuts. And, Christmas parades were cancelled due to rain yesterday! No matter how much we plan there are always snafus to our best plans. The smart people decorated their homes when the weather was still nice. We didn’t and now we kick ourselves for waiting too long and fear we may be forced to decorate in the rain. Why is it that we know what happens this month every year and we still never seem to get it right? If we can be so foolish with such simple tasks, how can we possibly be ready for Christ’s coming at a date and time we are not expecting.


You realize, I hope, that each year as we prepare for Christmas we are also reminded to prepare for his coming again on the last day. Such preparations involves paying attention to the things that are happening in the world around us. God has given us signs all around us to remind us that Christ’s reappearing is close at hand. God has given us his Word and Sacraments to preserve us strong and faithful as his people while waiting and watching for his coming. Today let’s consider:


Watch for Signs of the End of Time

in nature

in people

in yourself


At the end of time, the laws of nature will be upset. Things will happen for which there will be no scientific explanations. Jesus says, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars… the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” Matthew records that the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky.” We get excited when Haley’s comet passes by or when a far away planet is visible for a brief time in the sky. The other day we heard that a spacecraft landed safely on Mars! The skies, the milky way, the planets and stars are fascinating. Meteor showers attract universal attention. High powered telescopes are always targeted into the sky. You have to wonder what scientists and even common folk will think when God causes the signs of the end of time to appear in the sky.


Not only will God confound the laws of nature in the skies to confuse people, but the laws of nature will be shattered on earth as well. Jesus says, “Nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.” Weather men and storm trackers love to follow storms at sea and on land. When the storms at sea crash upon the land, it causes quite a stir because no one really knows how much power is at work in those storms. At the end of time, people all over the world will be afraid and confused and puzzled at the things that are taking place. The terror and fear and confusion that will strike the hearts of the ill-prepared at the end of time will be greater than anything we have ever heard or seen before!


“Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world.” Terror will grip the hearts of well-intentioned people who will find themselves standing in the presence of the holy God before they had taken the time to get their spiritual houses in order. Terror will fill their hearts because they have cut themselves off from God and his Word and find themselves unprepared to stand before him. They will be terrified because then they will realize that they had squandered the opportunities they had to take seriously God’s plea to hear his Word and to believe in Jesus Christ. They had the idea that there would always be a tomorrow when they could take care of spiritual matters. There is coming a day when there are no tomorrows.


Jesus said, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Watch for these signs in nature. Long for these signs to appear! St. Paul wrote, “We groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” The hymn writer put it this way, “Lift up your heads, you mighty gates. Behold the king of glory waits. The king of kings is drawing near. The Savior of the world is here.” Jesus redeemed us with his own blood that we might have the forgiveness of sins. Christians are watching and longing for the day when our bodies will be ransomed from death and adorned with life immortal, when all believers on earth and heaven are finally together again.


Watch for signs of the end of times in the people of the world. Jesus told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.” Jesus compares people to the trees in your yard. You can tell when you look at the trees what season of the year it is. If there are buds and leaves beginning to form, you know it is spring. If the leaves are in full bloom, it is summer and so on. Use that same technique as you watch the evening news. There are signs of the end of time in our daily lives. When you hear about conflicts with Russia or Ukraine, with China or North Korea, with Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan pay attention. When you hear of wildfires in California, aliens trying to invade our country on the Mexican border you are hearing about the increase of wickedness. You are hearing signs that the end of time is near. Pay attention to the signs.


Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” The generation Jesus is speaking about is the kind of people who are unprepared for the last day. They are the kind of people who scoff at the word of God. They will continually live life with their eyes focused on earthly affairs. They try to live life as if there were no God. People are confused about sexuality, about the sanctity of human life, about authority on every level. Lawbreakers often go unpunished. Children don’t know right from wrong because their parents don’t There seems to be no accountability, no responsibility. There is only selfishness and greed. These are all signs of the end of times.


In spite of all this, Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Why are we so foolish to treasure the things of this world when all these things are passing away? We buy and build as though we are going to live in this world forever. We build our homes bigger and bigger and we plan as though we have a thousand tomorrows. But it’s all going to end. St. Peter wrote, “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” There will be no heaven on earth. This world is coming to an end.


One thing endures – God’s Word. His words are always true. Even if the whole world should deny the truth and abandon God, God cannot disown himself. His Word remains forever. His Word is still the truth. Whether people believe it or not, Jesus is coming to judge the living and the dead on the last day.


Watch for signs of the end of times in your own heart. The devil never tires of trying to destroy your confidence in Christ. Jesus said, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.” It is so easy to become careless with spiritual matters. We can let the pleasures and the worries of this life become so enormous that we forget about spiritual matters and find ourselves ill prepared for Christ’s arrival. The devil would like nothing better for you than for you to become so wrapped up in your successes or your favorite forms of entertainment that you leave Christ completely out of your life and your heart. Such people are unprepared for his return.


To prevent that from happening, Jesus has some good advice for you. “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Do not take your salvation for granted. St. Paul wrote, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” He said, “Let him who thinks he is standing firm be careful that he doesn’t fall.” Watch out. Our hearts are easily preoccupied with the pleasures and challenges of life. Stay close to God’s Word. Read and study that Word daily. Come to church with repentant hearts and receive his sacraments regularly. And pray. Pray that the Lord would keep you firm in the faith until your Savior’s reappearing. God loves to hear and answer our prayers.


Stand firm then with your Savior’s robe of righteousness wrapped around you. Keep your eyes in the sky and watch for Jesus to come. What a glorious sight that will be. So, as you travel around the town this month, enjoy all the sights and sounds of the Christmas season. But remember that with the celebration of the birth of baby Jesus in Bethlehem, we are anticipating that same Jesus to come again – not as a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes but as the Son of Man surrounded by his holy angels. Watch for Jesus to come. The world might be as chaotic as Augusta in December, but the child of God lives with hope – the hope of seeing Jesus with our own eyes!


Amen.


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