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November 27, 2016 Text: Romans 13:11-14
Dear Friends in Christ,
As you know I am a person that doesn’t care much for the morning. In fact, I believe my heaviest sleep is in the morning, something to do with circadian rhythms or some pseudo science. Last week was one such morning. Toni came into the bedroom and I was startled awake. What did she have for my morning ears? There was water coming from the floorboard of the sink in the hall bathroom. Good morning, Mr. Lueck!
I have found in my years on earth that being woken up usually means bad news. Someone has died, a parishioner is in the hospital, and a few years ago my in-laws came with this little bulletin. “There’s water on the basement floor, we think your water heater is leaking.” Another good morning, Mr. Lueck!
How about you? Do you find the same thing in your life? Are your pleasant dreams interrupted by news you would rather not hear? Sleep is a gift of God, a great restorer of energy. But there comes a time when we have to wake up. Today, this First Sunday of Advent we are roused from our spiritual sleep.
“WAKE UP!…HE’S ALMOST HERE”
Paul begins, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” (v. 11)
Joseph Bayly’s words have a real echo, don’t they? “God’s people should plan for a voyage of a thousand years, but be prepared to abandon ship tonight.” Not only do we live in anticipation of the Lord’s sudden return, but who among us can predict when the doctor’s report has “months to live” attached to it or the sudden chest pain won’t allow enough time to say goodbye?
We are to live in the anticipation. We are to wake from sleep and prepare for the Lord’s entrance – be that the celebration of his birth, or His second Coming, or our entrance into eternity in the blink of an eye.
The preparation is to be constant because, “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.” (v. 12-13)
The night of this world with its black pall of sin had certainly lasted a long time when Paul lived, thousands of years. As his next event Christ had promised His return. Now over 2,000 additional years have passed. The night has now certainly cut forward still closer to the sudden break of the final day.
“The works of darkness” go on continually, and we Christians live in this world age and are constantly beset to join in these works. Those who have visited the excavated ruins of Pompeii will know what is to be seen there in the way of brothels. The pagan world stank with vice, and does the modern world stink less?
The modern world wants us to accommodate their vice. And if you won’t then you get labeled as unloving or out of touch or dare I say even dangerous. We have lived to see that what is Godly and Biblical can be besmirched in this way. And all of this is a monster within the church as well. I recently read of a brother Pastor forced out of his congregation by the laity because of his Biblical position regarding people living together out of wedlock. Wake up! The battle is before us.
We are to fight the good fight of faith here, during the night; our weapons of the light are to drive us from the darkness. We are not merely to stand in shining armor but to do battle, to stand victorious until the Lord arrives or until He calls us away before He arrives.
How can we do this? The beginning of verse 14, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Do you see the baptismal imagery? Christ put his mark on us through water and the Word. You and I have been watermarked. Made His child. What are the Christian’s clothing? Colossians says, “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience…forgive as the Lord forgave you.” All of these terms are what Jesus brought to sinful, rebellious us through His birth. All of these terms were sealed for us at Calvary. All of these terms are assured us through His resurrection. “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.” (Gal. 3:27)
When I was a kid, I did not have an alarm clock. My mom would yell up the stairs, “Chad, time to get up.” I usually got up, had a nice shower, if my sister left me some hot water, then enjoyed my pop-tart and morning paper. If I didn’t get up with the first command, the 2nd was a little more shrill, “Chad, you have to wake up!” I knew instantly by the tone that my morning better be getting started.
It’s that 2nd command that we need. We can’t go around sleepy-eyed in this world that is coming to an end. But as we crawl out of bed, the Lord is there. He lifts our head from the pillow. He provides the strength for the day. His Word and Sacrament are the breakfast of champions. The day is at hand – wake up!