Sunday, November 9, 2008
November 9, 2008 Third to last Sunday of the Church Year Psalm 19
The heavens tell the glory of God; and the work of His hands the firmament declares. Day to day it gushes out speech; and night to night it reveals knowledge. There is not speech and there is not words; in (them) no voice is heard. In all the earth goes forth their line; and in the end of the world, their utterances–for the sun He has placed a tabernacle in them. And that, as a bridegroom exiting from his bridal chamber; it rejoices as a strong one to run a course. From an end of the heavens, its rising; and its circuit to their other end; and there is nothing hidden from its heat. Torah of Yahweh--flawless, restoring a soul; Testimony of Yahweh–reliable, causing to be open, a simple one. Directions of Yahweh–right, causing joy to a heart; commands of Yahweh–clear, causing enlightenment to an eye. Fear of Yahweh–clean, lasting forever; judgments of Yahweh–true, righteous altogether. They are desired more than gold, and more than much fine gold; and they are sweeter than honey, and the drippings of a honeycomb. Errors? Who can discern? From hidden sins acquit me. Also, from presumptions, keep your servant; do not let them rule in me. Then I will be complete; and acquitted from much transgression. Be acceptable to your sight words of my mouth and meditation of my heart; Yahweh, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Today begins our countdown to the end of the church year. So, our focus begins on the countdown to the last days of this world–all the way to Judgment Day. On that day, Jesus will return as He promised, from the clouds of the heavens to earth, to judge the living & the dead. He comes like a long-awaited bridegroom comes from his chamber to the home of his beloved, to take her as His wife. Jesus instructs us to be alert until that time, since we don't know when that day will be.
How do you know if you are one of the alert ones? How can you be sure that you are like the prudent bridesmaids who came prepared with enough oil? Well, your certainty can never be in what you do, for you know that you are not flawless, you are not completely perfect, and you commit some secret sins that are even hidden to your knowledge! If keeping alert and being ready for Judgment Day were something for you to do, no doubt you would fail to be prepared & probably sleep right through it.
So how do you have enough *oil* for your lamp on that last day? Some look at the oil as *faith* from the Holy Ghost. Others see it as God's *grace*. Still others view it as similar to the wedding garment of Christ's holy *righteousness*. The answer is, essentially, all of the above, since your entrance into the eternal wedding feast of heaven includes being saved by grace, through faith, not of your own effort to keep God's Law, but of His works of righteousness alone. In Jesus you are well prepared!
Yet, if you were to reject any one of these essential elements of your salvation, your oil runs out. If you place confidence in yourself instead of trusting in Christ Jesus, you would find yourself locked out of the heavenly wedding banquet. If you seek to earn God's favor by your own fithly rags of righteousness, instead of relying on His grace to save you, you will find the Bridegroom claiming to have never known you. For only by Christ acquitting you from much transgression are you saved.
For this is what it means for Christ Jesus to be your LORD, your Rock and Your Redeemer. As your LORD, Jesus is God come down in the flesh, to be your righteousness under the Law in His 1st stay on earth. As your Rock, Jesus alone is the foundation-stone of your faith, upon which you are built as a living stone. As your Redeemer, Jesus paid the full ransom price for you at the cross of Calvary, by His body given unto death and His blood shed for you there for the forgiveness of your sins.
By His Word & Sacraments, Jesus does you one better than to simply invite you to attend His heavenly wedding. He comes to be your very own Bridegroom, coming forth from the bridal chamber with His loving-kindness, having already wed you to Himself forevermore in Holy Baptism. The psalmist David compares the sun shining in the heavens to this Bridegroom, as evidence to all of God in action. Jesus' instruction restores your soul to everlasting life with Him as His beloved bride.
So don't fear that you will miss out on the heavenly wedding feast. Jesus has prepared you well by His saving love for you. And He would not find it proper to celebrate without you, His bride, at the Festival. If that were not enough assurance, know that you are invited to the foretaste of the feast to come as you eat Jesus body and drink His blood here in the sacrament of the altar. The marriage feast is waiting; the gates wide open stand. Arise, O heirs of glory; the Bridegroom is at hand. Amen.