Sunday, November 15, 2020

1.Thess.5.1–11; Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost; November 14, 2020;

1.Thess.5.1–11; Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost; November 14, 2020; Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN; Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1–11, ESV) From a Sermon by Rev. Jeff Gibbs; Grace and peace to you from Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You've probably heard someone say it, that St. Paul believed that Jesus was going to return before he and the disciples died. That he probably went to his death surprised that he hadn't see Jesus' return. Well, disappointed maybe but not surprised. After all if you look at the end of our text today you see Paul saying, " through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him" or if you look at Romans 14:8 he says For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14:8, ESV) Paul clearly allowed for his own death. Weather we live or die. Now if you ask the question in this way, "Did Paul expect the Lord's return at any time?" You have to answer with an emphatic "Yes!" Paul expected that the day of the Lord, the day that Jesus would return, would be soon, tonight, today, tomorrow, without warning. Dear Christians, this is what you confess here every Sunday. You confess that you are expecting for the day of the Lord at any time. It’s there in the creed. "I look for the resurrection of the dead..." You are looking for the day when your Savior will return to set all things right. When all evil will be put down. When all sin and death will end. The day when everything will be forever as it should be, exactly as God created it to be. Now since you are looking for such a time as this, today's reading, today's text is for you. St. Paul put pen to paper to write these words for your encouragement. I'd like you to open your bulletin and look at the text. It is really divided into three parts, like three steps. First, he says, since you are expecting the day of the Lord, remember who you are. He writes. Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. Here he sets a very strong contrast between those who reject God's son and those who look for his return. It will surprise them with "sudden destruction" like the agony of "birth pangs." Those who think nothing of Jesus will be caught unaware. They will not escape. They are living in the darkness. But not you, St. Paul says. Because you are not in darkness. You are the baptized children of light. You expect his return at any time. As you wait for the day of the Lord, you are children of the day. Now isn't that interesting. As you wait for the day you are children of the day. How can that be? Well that's because for you the day has already happened. The day of the Lord was a day of darkness and agony and day of death and forsakenness. Jesus, your Savior, hung between heaven and earth in darkness, suffering the agony of the punishment of your sin, your rebellion. He was forsaken by God for you. "My God, my God why have you forsaken me." That was the day of the Lord. Do not be afraid, St. Paul says. He is risen. He is not here. You are baptized into his death and his resurrection you are children of the day as you expect the day. You expect him to come soon. Do not be afraid. Remember who you are you are children of the day. Now about halfway through the text Paul says, "So then” Because you are expecting his return remember who you are, so then live let us not sleep. That is, live as who you are. Those ready for his coming. Those who are baptized into Christ. Paul uses these important words. Be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. It probably shows the influence on us by the world around us, but we probably think of these two references to being sober as a bit of a downer. Don't be drunk, be sober sounds to us as if he means, be serious, don't have any fun. This isn't what he means. You know what it is to be drunk. To be drunk is to be foolish. When you are drunk you don't even know or care if people are mocking you. When you are drunk you stager and fall, you can't get up. You can't find your way. When you are drunk you are helpless and defenseless. You can't see danger coming. To be drunk is to forget who you are. Paul applies this image to people in both the physical sense of drunkenness and the spiritual state of drunkenness, which is to be without Christ. He says to you, don't forget who you are, be sober. To be sober is to see clearly. To see truth and beauty and be open to real joy. To be sober is to be strong. To be sober is to walk toward your neighbor in love and mercy. To be sober is to be wise, to live well. To be sober is to have your wits about you to avoid danger. To be ready for the day that is coming and not caught unawares. To be sober is to be dressed well, "having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation." Have faith in God and love for your neighbor. Having hope that Jesus is indeed coming soon. The hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. To be sober is the only way to live for those who are waiting for Jesus to return. Since you know who you are you will live it out. Finally, St. Paul, says, encourage one another. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. You see, you are not alone. We are all together by our own confession, waiting for the Lord's return. We are aware of who we are, and we desire to live it out, together. So, as encouragement to each other we are going to confess as we so often do. Open your hymnal to the back cover. Find the Nicene Creed. Find the fourth line from the bottom that begins "And I believe in one Holy and apostolic Church." That' us, the church of those baptized into the day of the Lord. And I believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church, I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life T of the world to come. Amen. Children of the day, encourage one another, speak to one another about the day to come. Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. Amen. The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.