Sermon Luther Seminary Chapel 12/2/2011

Have you heard the news?
Jesus is.
Jesus is coming. 
Jesus is coming back. 
In today’s scripture reading we are asked if we are ready?  Are you ready?  Do you have any idea what it is to be ready? But Christmas is coming? Jesus is coming, right?  A cute little baby, in a serne manger.  It is all good yeah?
We can't avoid the truth that Christmas is coming.  It seems that everything has become festooned with boughs of pine and holly, red ribbons cover everything.  Giant trees have been taken inside, pulled from the wilderness.  Alas, this time of waiting we are in the midst of is not only in remembrance of that night roughly two thousand years ago but also for the end times.  Whatever and whenever they may be.
We live in the midst of a Christian culture that seemingly talks constantly about the return of Christ.  Not the birth of Christ that we celebrate in a few weeks, but Jesus returning.  Returning in such a way that we envision Jesus, swords flailing, leaving arcs of flame and destruction in His wake.  And we are pushed, begged, coerced even, to answer the questions, “are you good with God?  Are you in or out?”  Cause we all know where we want to be when the world ends right?  This type of thinking can lead to cultural phenomnea such as the Left Behind series.  This type of thinking can lead to an idea that we can, even must, earn our own salvation. 
By now all of you, highly profiecent theologians to the last, are saying to yourselves, yeah, but that is not right. 
And, you are right, it is not right.  But in the time of Advent it is clear that we are waiting for Jesus to come again.  Not just in dirty manger, but in the end times.  This passage from 2nd Peter is full of allusions to the Old Testament and the New.  The author is like some modern day DJ, pulling threads of thought together to create a thing of beauty.  The Psalms and prophets are both invoked, calling us to remember whom God is, how God has been working in history.  We also hear echos of other New Testament writings, the new revelation of God and how God continues to work in the world.  And thorughout all of these passages, there is a sense of God being present.  A sense of God being near.  A sense of God coming to us.  And that is the purpose of the reading today. 
God is coming,
God has come,
But God is coming again,
If you are not ready,
Watch out.
We are called, called to prepare for the day of the LORD.  A day, who knows when, where the fullness of the promise will come to pass.  And guess what, we have to prepare for that day.  We don’t get to sit back and wait for it to come as though we know we are good to go.  We need to live out our baptismal identities and embrace a Christ like life. 
Surely we need God's help in this right?  After all, we, being the humans that we are, are prone to goofing up.  We will never get it right, but by the grace of the Triune God.  A God, like some crazy recruting poster, who wants you.  God wants you to repent, to live out the life that was shown us by Christ.  And it is only with God's help that we can do this.
Repent, Like Nineva after Jonah showed up.  Repent like that. 
Live the life you promised to in your baptism. 
Live the life God promised you in your baptism. 
Live, in other words like God is already here.  Like John the Baptist is out in the wilderness today, pointing to Christ.  Live like Heaven has come already.  Live like the Holy Spirit has filled your breast, and you have no choice, but to live this way.
Furthermore, live in a way that every act you do is full of love for the other.  Think of yourself second.  Every choice you make, every day of your life has an effect upon someone else, somewhere in the world.  That person picked the beans that made your morning cup of coffee.  Perhaps that person who harvested the raw materials for the computer you work on.  Perhaps that person who raised or cleaned the food that is your meal. 
Perhaps, just perhaps, that person is Christ. 
Living a Christ like life, that we are called to in our baptisms, is a great freedom.  We know that the ordinances of this world have no hold over us.  We are bound by the love of Christ.  That love prepares us.  That love forms us.  That love allows us to love in a way that we cannot love alone, we need God and we need others in this love.
This love allows us to prepare.  This love allows us to wait.  This love allows us to be secure.  This love allows us to speak from our baptismal identities into the world and call out brokenness.  This love does not allow us to sit idly by, awaiting the end of days.  This love requires an active waiting for the end of days.  This love, our baptism, does not allow idleness.  This love, our security, allows us to push against the ordinances of this world and call them out for inherant violence that they manifest.
Being prepared is not about making sure that the Christmas decorations are up.  Being prepared is not about our coursework being completed and in on time.  Being prepared is not about making sure that we are doing things right.  Being prepared is all about remembering our baptismal identities and that we live out that identity in the world.
Being prepared is about the love manifest in Jesus is coming back.
Being prepared is about the love proclaimed in Jesus is coming.
Being prepared is about the love of Jesus is.

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