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Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Trinity, November 18th 2007

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 24th Sunday after Trinity, November 18th 2007

Malachi 4:1-2a Psalm 98 II Thess. 3:6-13 Luke 21: 5-19 

In many of our Bibles, Malachi is the last Old Testament book, before the New Testament begins with the Gospels. Mark starts right off with the words of Malachi, “See, I am sending my messenger to prepare a way before me” (Malachi 3:11), although these words also come from Isaiah.    

Now we believe that this messenger was John the Baptist, who prepared the way for his cousin, Jesus, the Christ, the anointed. Often we take Malachi to be the name of the prophet who wrote the book. But “malachi” just means “my messenger” in Hebrew. With a careful reading of Malachi, you will discover that its whole prophesy prepares the way for the Holy One of God, Jesus Christ, coming to us from heaven to save us.    

That coming was of old, but here in our last Sundays before the end of the church year, it also refers to the second coming of Jesus Christ and the end of the world. Malachi speaks of the arrogant and unrighteous becoming burnt up like stubble, fully destroyed in root and branch, but then proclaims that the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.

For the coming of Jesus Christ after John the Baptist, this prophesy refers to the resurrection of our Lord. The fulfillment and consummation of this prophesy will take place on the Day of the Lord, when

Jesus shall reign where e’er the sun,

Doeth his successive journeys run.

His kingdom stretches from shore to shore,

Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

Yes, the Son of Righteousness shall rise with healing in his wings. That is like the verse from Judges: “The friends of God are like the sun when he rises in all his splendor” (5:31). Yes, Thine, O Christ is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The ancients used to see the sun rise and set, running its powerful course through the sky, flying in its wonderful trajectory, as if it had invisible wings. Its radiance gave us light, its warmth brought forth life, and its rays brought healing and health.     

In a similar way, in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we see the Son of God rise to light up the Day of the Lord, with the light of righteousness that the sun, moon, and stars cannot provide. The risen Christ lights up a path before our feet – because Christ is the “Word of God, a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path” (Psalm 119:105).     

When we go through real trouble, we often lose our way. I submit that we have done so as a country after 9/11. Back when Jesus started speaking about the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem and the end of the world, the disciples wanted a sign. It’s somewhat like losing your way while traveling on an interstate highway. We drive and drive wanting to see a sign to direct us and get us going on the right way again.    

After the catalogue of all the ordeals, disasters, wars, famines, earthquakes, what have you, after all these things that we go through, with careful reading of these passages, it turns out that Jesus Christ himself is the sign. As he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). So wake up in the morning with your mind fixed on Jesus. “Thou dost keep in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusts in Thee” (Isaiah 26:3). Yes,

Through it all. Through it all –

trust in Jesus, trust in God.

Through it all, through it all,

learn to depend upon his word!    

For Jesus to tell that the temple would be destroyed spelled only one thing to the disciples: the end of the world. But even after its destruction, lift up your eyes and gaze on Jesus. He is the living temple and we are in his body and his body is a temple indeed.     

We also thought that the destruction of the World Trade Towers was the end of our world, but listen up folks: Christ arose, and through our baptisms, we also rise up into new selves in him and worship him in spirit and truth.

One time in a poem, I realized that our skyscrapers were really our cathedrals. Many of us worship money. In my poem I found myself saying:    

What’s closest to the sky is what men live by.    

We do not live by bread alone.

A skyscraper is a funeral home.

I was shocked when I read my old poem recently. I wrote it back in the sixties in the form of a business letter.

We will not lose our way however, if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Christ himself, and him crucified and what’s more, risen from the dead. He is our sign and will show us the way.

It’s so wrong headed to try to calculate the time of the end of the world by the troubles we see as signs. Sure, as Jesus said, when you see armies all around Jerusalem, you know the destruction is going to take place. But even then, it is not yet the end. We have to still hold onto Jesus with patient confidence. How many false Christs have calculated the date of the end of the world, which no one is given to know? Luther has the right idea. Somebody asked him what he would do if he knew the world would end on the next day. “I’d plant an apple tree” he said. With patient confidence he had his heart fixed on Jesus, and in his time he endured plagues, wars, uprisings, and an attack on Christ right from inside the church. He felt like he was experiencing the last days.

Some Christians today are toying with another game. They think they can contrive the end of the world by starting a last battle, Armageddon, the mother of all battles, and have it take place over Israel in the Middle East. So they are talking about a Third World War. They have certainly lost their way and they will not bring the Day of the Lord, but untold bloodshed and misery to all those countries and the whole world.

A very ignorant Christian once told me that the world had to end in a nuclear conflagration by an exchange of Russian and American missiles, because the Bible said that the world would end with fire. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Hello! He is the Prince of Peace. He said, “I have come to bring life and life more abundantly.” The powers of this world are based on coercion and inflict death. Our unconverted nations waste our common wealth by waging military campaigns. Hello! Jesus criss-crossed Israel doing healing campaigns. He opened the eyes of the blind, gave hearing to the deaf, gave the lame a pair of legs that could walk, healed the sick, raised up the dead, and changed the hearts and minds of people by demanding that they even love their enemies.

How different from our military campaigns which leave so many young men and women blind, deaf, brain-damaged, lame, that is, with their arms and legs blown off, not to speak of the wholesale death as well that our wars bring.

Let us agree that this is the end of the world as we know it and anticipate the world over which Jesus is Lord, the way God knows it. And of course, the unconverted countries who all too readily inflict death, will not be pleased with us. No matter. That is why we cluster together in the church, which is the body of Christ, Christ crucified, and what’s more, risen from the dead, and all his people with him, with a glad shout. Hallelujah! Because the Son of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. Yes, and all the friends of God with him, like the Son when he rises in all his splendor.

Nun auf Deutsch.

Vorher waren es immer religiöse Menschen die das Weltende verausgesagt haben. Wir nennen die schreckliche Erreichnisse die dann geschehen und diese Stimmung die von dieser Endzeit gestaltet wird: Apokalyptik. Jetzt entdecken wir das Natur Wissenschaftler von der Endzeit sprechen, genau so Apokalyptisch wie damals die Propheten. Sie sprechen von einem Umwelt-zusammenbruch (Eco-collapse auf Englisch). Die meisten Arten der Fische werden absterben. Tiere werden sich nur noch in einem Zoo befinden. Weil die Eis-Gletscher verschmelzen im Nord Pol und Grünland, werden die Wellen des Oceans weit herein auf das Land kommen. Viele Gross-Städte wie New Orleans, sollen unter Wasser kommen. Es ist als ob durch die Natur Wissenschaft und unsere Technologie wir gedacht dass wir die Natur erobert haben, aber jezt wird sie mit einer viel schrecklicherer Macht sich gegen uns aufheben und uns vernichten. So fürchten wir.

Hier müssen wir zuhören, aber trotzdem, den uns gegebenen Zeichen Jesus Christus durchaus weiter vertrauen. Wenn wir Christus glauben und auf ihn getrost mit Geduld harren, dann werden wir nicht nur unsere Seelen retten, sondern auch diese Welt. Wenn wir auf Christus hoffen, dann können wir auch getrost nicht nur Seelsorge, sondern auch leidenschaftliche Sorge für unsere Umwelt gewinnen. Gott hat nicht nur die Welt so sehr geliebt, sondern auch unsere Umwelt, denn Gott weiss dass unser Leben auch von einer treuen Sorge für unsere Umwelt abhängt. Wir werden viel mehr freundlich mit der Umwelt hergehen müssen, aber dabei wird auch unser Herr Jesus Christus uns helfen. Wenn die Natur Wissenschaftler uns apokalyptisch sagen das die Welt jetzt zu Ende kommt, dann sehen wir auf Christus, und wissen dass Er uns helfen kann, und als seine Gemeinde, kann er auch noch Wunder werken, denn seine Armen sind nicht kurz geworden. “Der Wolken, Luft, und Winden gibt Wege, lauf, und Bahn, der wird auch Wege finden, da dein Fuss gehen kann,” unsere Füsse gehen können. Ich meine dass wir die Natur Wissenschaftler ernst nehmen sollen, und mansche Veränderungen durchführen sollten, aber immer getrost und heiter, Gott hilft uns weiter. Amen.

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Written by peterkrey

December 2, 2007 at 8:20 pm

Posted in Selected Sermons

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