Sunday, August 11, 2019

Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN;
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”” (Luke 12:35–40, ESV)
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Well… what are you looking forward to? What happened to you last year? Was it good for you? I’ll have to admit there’s a good bunch of last few years that I might just as well skip. Some times of our lives are like that. Good and bad. It is difficult to live in the world the way it is, but don’t think you are alone. This has how it has always been, since Adam and Eve decided it should be this way. And that’s exactly what they did.
“We should know better than God what’s good for us,” Eve thought as she plunged her teeth into the fruit God told them to stay away from.
“We should know better than God how our relationship should be,” thought Adam as he watched his wife.
There is no way around it. He should have listened to God and protected both of them from death. He wanted to have what God didn’t give them to have. And so, we have it. Sin and death and all the trouble that leads up to it; selfishness, greed, pride, deceit, coveting, false religion, and plague, war, bad government, failing economies and divorce, child abuse, abortion, murder, and cancer, heart disease and… the list goes on. We’ve seen them all, and we will see them all again. They lead to the big one, the mother of all trouble… anxiety. What is going to happen to me? How will I protect my family? What happens if I get cancer? Is my job secure? There’s a quote that a pastor I know uses:
"Anxiety is the liturgy with which we serve our idols." Unknown
That’s exactly what anxiety is, worshipping and serving our idols. Our work, our families, our money, our security, and then there is the biggest one, our big god is ourselves. Me. I wonder what’s going to happen to me. I worry, how I will feel if that bad thing I’m worried about actually happens. Anxiety is not placing our trust in the hands of God where it belongs.
And then we have our text for this today. “Stay dressed for action…” The original expression is “gird up your loins.” ( You see, in the days when Jesus said these words, men wore long tunics that inhibited free movement. You ladies know about these things. Long narrow skirts and dresses. You can’t run. You can’t squat down to pay attention to something on the ground. To gird up your loins was a very specific thing for men in those days. You had to hike up your tunic above your knees, gather all the excess in front, push it between your knees like a diaper, separate it in back and tie the two ends together at the front. It was the only way to free up your legs for movement, to be prepared for battle or serious work. “Gird up your loins…” Jesus says. Be prepared.
I have a good friend that uses the term “Cowboy up!” or “Man up.” He means you’ve got this stuff to deal with, just do it! Jesus isn’t exactly saying that to us. But he is saying, be prepared for what’s coming. Specifically, be prepared because He is coming, and you don’t know when. It could be before we meet again for another Sunday. But whenever it happens, all of this trouble, all that you are anxious about, will come to an end. But Jesus isn’t saying, look into yourself and find your own strength to deal. It’s in the section right before the words “Gird up your loins”, back in verse 22.
And [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” (Luke 12:22–31, ESV)
Seek the Kingdom of God, Jesus says. Don’t be anxious about anything. You can’t change the length of your life. You have no control over so many of these things you worry about. Instead focus on God’s Kingdom. He’ll take care of the rest. And then he says, “Gird up your loins.” Be prepared for action. Be prepared for battle. Do what needs to be done in light of the fact that God is taking care of you, and not just you but the whole world. Jesus’ Kingdom is coming. His death on the cross is the fix, and his resurrection is the proof. Your sin is forgiven. Your neighbor’s sin is forgiven. That’s a whole new light to live in. Jesus takes care of your great need, forgiveness. He, in a sense, girded up his loins, and did the necessary work. His life, death and resurrection are that work for you. You have no worries about what is coming in the end. You’ve read the last page of the book; you know how it comes out. Jesus goes to prepare a place for you. He returns in glory to take you there. You have no real worries about tomorrow. God provides everything you need. You know it because he has taken care of your greatest need. And in the end, you will see it.
Now, the world itself is looking forward to its own redemption. From Romans 8:
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:20–23, ESV)
It is going to happen, the fix is in, be ready, the Kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus is coming, soon…
So, what do we do? What actions do we take? How do we gird up our loins? What to do whilst we wait for our master to return? Scripture is full of action:
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink,” (Proverbs 25:21, ESV)
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18, ESV)
…in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV)
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”” (Hebrews 13:1–5, ESV) 
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good. Titus 3:1
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior. 1 Tim. 2:1–3
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:18–24, ESV)
The commandments … are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Rom. 13:9
Gird up your loins. Be ready. Do the work you have been given to do while you wait. Serve in your many vocations. Do what you have been given to do in the place you have been given to do it, for the people God has given you to serve. Be prepared because he is coming soon. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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