Sunday, December 9, 2012
Advent II Philemon 2-11
I give thanks to my God upon all the memories of you, at all times in all my entreaties on behalf of all of you; upon your communion into the Gospel from the first day up to the now, trusting this same thing, that the One Who made a beginning in you a good work, He will perfectly-complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. To the degree that it is right to me to think this on behalf of all of you, through the having of you in my heart, and in my bonds and in the defense and certainty of the Gospel, sharers in grace with me, you all are. For God–my witness, as I long for all of you in the gut of Christ Jesus. And this I pray, in order that your love (from God) yet more and more be over-abundant in complete knowledge and all insight into your testing the drifts, so that you be of pure-motives and without offense unto the day of Christ, being ones filled with fruit of righteousness, the one through Jesus Christ, into glory and approval of God.
Some folks are worried that in just a couple of weeks, on December 21st to be exact, that the world will come to an end. The Mayan calendar says so, so it must be true. Plus it was verified by the Weekly World News and the National Enquirer. Soon the tests will come back and Maury Povitch will verify this as fact, right? Of course not. Jesus made it clear that nobody knows, not even Himself, as to when this world will end. Yet, what we do know, is that it is not a Mayan date, but the Day of Christ!
It's not man's day to worry about. It's Christ's Day to return. Yet you may worry, just the same. Jesus may come back soon, and what if you haven't accomplished all that He has wanted you to do? Will He return with a scowl on His face toward you? Sometimes folks expect that Jesus is like St. Nick, knowing if you are naughty or nice, and when that day of arrival comes, you'll receive only a lump of coal in your stocking instead of a nice present under the tree. All too many dread that last Day...
But for you there is nothing at all to worry about. For Jesus began a good work in you long ago at the day of your baptism. There, He washed you clean from all your sins, and traded them for His Own righteousness. Since that day, Christ has dwelled richly in you to bear fruit in you of that righteousness of His. He made you a baptized child of God, and His Holy Spirit has kept you in the one true faith your whole life. He promises to keep working in you to your salvation's completion!
Well, you might be all right, concerning just yourself, but there are those relationships you have with other people which aren't always what they could be. You have estranged kinships with family members, frustrations in your dealings with people at work or school, and even former friends with whom you know that you should be reconciled. Your fellowship with other people is very different from your communion with God, and this troubles you. Is this going to be a problem for you on the last day?
St. Paul reminds you of the communion-fellowship of the Gospel, that special koinonia God works for you and for others. It has two dimensions, remember: the vertical keeping you connected to God, and the horizontal which unites you with fellow believers in Christ. Paul tells the Philippians and you too to trust in that same God-given fellowship, for in it we all share in the same grace of Christ Jesus. For He gave His body and shed His blood for that communion we share in the forgiveness of all our sins.
OK, so you will trust that God has your salvation taken care of, and that He is even in charge of your relationships with others. But what about your lack of love? You know that you do things with self-centeredness, and with wrong motives. Your knowledge of God's loving will for you is often lacking. Your insight to test the drifts of doctrine fails. Your words on-line and in person have offended people, and your behaviors would more readily be called "wrong-tiousness" than they would "righteousness".
Indeed, when your love for God or for others has failed, you repent. Yet this too comes not from yourself, but from God's love in you. It is no longer you who lives, but Christ Who lives in you. So it is His love, not yours, that wins the day. In fact, Jesus love is given to you so abundantly, in His word proclaimed and in His sacraments received, that it is yours in super-abundance! His forgiveness from the cross to you overflows! This love comes directly from the gut of Jesus, pierced for your salvation.
So as you long for Jesus return, and await the approach of that last day, don't fear, but rather, rejoice! For on that Day of Christ, He comes as your just Judge, having done everything for your salvation, from beginning to perfect completion. He will find you on that day, forgiven of your sin, cleansed from your unrighteousness, purified and made holy in His sight, glorious and approved by God for life eternal.
Hymns from LSB:
#343 Prepare the Royal Highway music stanzas
#344 On Jordan's Bank the Baptist's Cry music stanzas
#334 Oh Lord, How Shall I Meet You? music stanzas