“God with Us.” Rev Mark Duer
Malachi 4:1-6; Ro 15:4-13; Luke 21:25-36/ Advent 2 Wed. December 12th, 2018 The Day of the Lord’s return will set the wicked and the proud ablaze in hell’s tortuous fire. They will suffer terribly and know great terror, for during this life they lived as if they were the only ones who mattered.

They loved their families and they loved Christmas. They probably loved Jimmy Steward and maybe even teared up at “God Bless America.” They just didn’t love Jesus, Jesus the one who came to suffer and die, the one who said, “Take up your cross and follow Me,” and “No one comes to the Father except by Me.”

They will see the signs too late, in sun, moon, starts, earth, and sea. They will se them as a gathering of armies on the border, as imminent and painful death, as the end of all good things, It will be for them impeding and total doom.

Repent. This is what justice requires of us. We are the wicked. What was written in former days has been written for our instruction, and yet we do not live in harmony and hope. We live for ourselves. We think it is admirable that we love our families and those who love us, but in this we are no different than the Gentiles.

Loving Christmas and eggnog and feasting. Loving presents and gaudy decorations and Rudolf doesn’t make one a Christian. Repent. If we were judged by our lives, by our works, by what we loved, we would be destroyed as stubble in a fire.

The terrible day is coming, but for us who now have joy in Christ, the day will be pure joy. Our Lord directs our attention to what’s going on in the world now. In politics and climate change, in violent crime and loss of rights, in news of wars and reminders that sometimes the sky rains down bombs on your soldiers and sailors relaxing on a quiet Sunday morning in Hawaii, we see signs of the end.

In disasters, economic upheaval, and the simple sorrow of being the target of gossip, we see that this world cannot endure. But Jesus doesn’t want to turn us into Chicken Littles, scrambling about in a panic. He wants us to lift our heads and hearts in glad anticipation. Our Redemption, our Jesus, is drawing near. Rejoice!+

Look to those sings in sun, moon, and stars, in earth, sea, and even in your own life. Look to the cross, to war, to death, and see beautiful blossoms, doves, and rainbows. They point you to God’s grace and promises. They are ushering in peace and tranquility, the end of war.

Your enemies will be no more. Sin will lose all appeal. Temptation will have no power. There will be no one to either accuse or hurt you. The good work begun in you will be complete. Your justification and your sanctification will match perfectly.

Creation itself will rejoice to see you revealed as a Son of God. And you will rejoice. You will be glad, for the kingdom of God will come and never be taken away.

Now, however you suffer. You know many hardships, most of them secret and internal. You endure in prayer and faith, by Word and Sacrament, waiting for the day of revelation, for the apocalyptic culmination of your hope.

For then, at last, the wrath of God will pass over you, for you are marked with the blood of the Lamb. The Lord Himself is with you, is on your side. He loves you. And He is coming back to get you.

This is not the end we deserve, but it is the end that He has promised, the end that He has won for us.

The only way, however, for there to be joy in heaven and on earth at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in His glory and judgement is if there is joy now. The Lord who came by the Virgin to lay down His life as a sacrifice for the sins of all the world and to take it up again as a renunciation of hell and death.

He now comes in His Holy Word and Sacrament so that—even now, while yet in this flesh and yet afflicted with the old Adam; even now, while you trek through this valley of sorrow –you might have joy.

And if the Lord comes now and makes you His temple; if He visits you in this painful, sad, and broken world despite your sins and does not look away from your nakedness and shame but comes to cover and protect you; if he declares you righteous and holy now, then there is nothing to fear, and much in which to rejoice, on the las day.

For if He comes now in grace and mercy according to His Word, he will come then in the same way on the last day—in grace and mercy—only then it will be visible and with power, and it will finish what was begun in you at your baptism. And then it will not abide alongside of sorrow but will fully and finally banish it forever.

Thus, the fig tree is in bloom. Summer is near. The smell of blossoms fills the air. Fruit to eat and wine to drink will soon be here as well. You know what fig buds mean. It means summer is coming.

So look here and see the fig buds of Jesus body and blood, His inspired Word, His Absolution, Holy Baptism. He visits you now. He comes to you in your hour of need, now, in grace and mercy, the crucified and risen Lord, for your sake and for your good.

The world is evil. You are surrounded by danger, by constant temptation, by constant injustice, but Jesus is faithful. Jesus is faithful! He has ascended, but He has not abandoned you. He comes to visit you, now, with mercy in His wings, with a promise and hope, with comfort.

His current coming in Word and Sacrament shows that summer is coming, that winter will end, that He has not forgotten you.

He is the fig leaf that foreshadows the end. His body and blood are the foretaste of the feast to come. He covers your nakedness and shame.

You are redeemed, washed clean in the blood of the Lamb, ready for the end. Straighten up. Lift up your head. Rejoice. The Lord comes in grace and mercy. Amen.