2nd Sunday of Advent
2 Peter 3:8-14
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In the name of Jesus dear friends in Christ, (tape cassette, floppy disc, portable tape player, encyclopedia, phonebook, camera film, VHS etc) (Show things) I think each one of these things is headed to be described by the same word, the same category. What is it? Obsolete. In fact, my children will grow up not even knowing what many of these things are or what they were used for. The old things go away and are replaced by the new. I doubt that anyone is putting investment money in VHS or VCR’s or floppy discs or cassette tapes. That would be a waste of time, money, and effort.
Well, there is something else that is headed for obsolescence. In fact, it’s something that each of us is guilty of putting “investment” in or treasuring as if it will last forever. Why did so many people invest in floppy discs or VHS’s or cassette tapes? Certainly they served a purpose, but today very, very few actually use those things. Why did so many people use them at one time? It’s because those things were all they saw and those things were all they knew about. When something better came along people forgot about the old and treasure the new. But in the end, everything in our world, all the things of this world will be old- it doesn’t matter how new it is or how revolutionary it is or how much it makes our lives easier – everything in this world is “old.” So, investing in the stuff of this world will only finally end up as a bad investment.
But it’s so easy for us to be enamored by the stuff of this world because to a degree it’s all we see and it’s all we know. We also live in a world and society that for the most part denies that the end is coming. Many people live life as if they are going to live forever and don’t consider much that either the end is going to come or their end is going to come at death. Our lives and the entire world is headed for one outcome: the end. God is guiding all of world history to one final destination and that’s the day of Christ’s return to judge the living and the dead. Your life and my life is headed for one outcome: death. The ship is going down. And when the ship is going down you cling with all your might to the life raft and you do all you can to bring as many people as possible on to that life raft. Living life as if it were going to go on forever makes about as much sense as if someone spent the 2 ½ hours while the Titanic was sinking cleaning rooms, washing dishes, or straightening out the deck chairs.
Well, why is it so easy for us to live life like it will go on forever or why is it so easy to cling to things that will one day be obsolete? Well, perhaps part of the reason is because the End hasn’t come yet. Right after Jesus ascended into heaven the disciples and many early Christians were ready for Jesus’ return at any moment and God even tells us that the time of his return is short, close at hand. Now, we look at that and think: “It’s been two thousand years, isn’t it well over due for the end to come?” But God – who himself exists in infinity – does not view what we think is long as long and what we think is short as short “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” God doesn’t view time the same way as we do. There is one reason why God hasn’t come; that He’s to our viewpoint “postponed” Judgment Day: “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Why has the end not come yet? The one reason is God’s patience. People’s lives on earth – yours and mine included – is a time of grace, a time to come to know Jesus as our Savior. Every single day that you wake up is another day of God’s grace and another day of God’s patience. Why hasn’t the end come yet? Because one day it will be too late to repent, too late to come to faith, too late to cling to the only life raft there is. It hasn’t come yet because God is patiently waiting for more people to be brought to a knowledge of their sinfulness, to come to realize that this earth – this ship- is going down, that we desperately need to be rescued, and that God has provided the only rescue in the baby born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger.
One day the end will come. It come like a thief in the night. The problem with the thief or the robber is that they come when you’re not expecting it. And notice what will happen when Jesus returns on the Last Day: the heavens (sky) will disappear with a roar; the elements of the earth will be destroyed; the earth and everything in it laid bare; everything will be destroyed by fire and melt away. Gone will be all the magnificent buildings and sky scrapers, gone all the beautiful works of art, gone all enormous mountains and scenery, gone all the latest techno gizmos, gone all the TVs, laptops, tablets, iphones, your house – gone, your car – gone, your collections of stuff – gone, all the stuff people just bought on Black Friday – gone. In other words, everything in life is headed for obsolescence, to be obsolete, nothing.
I’m going to guess that no one here is going to wipe out their life savings to stock up on floppy discs, cassettes, or VHS tapes. They’re about to be obsolete. Yet, how much of our time, our effort, our life do we spend on the other things of life that will become obsolete? Now, it’s certainly not wrong to use and enjoy the things of life, in fact, everything that we have is a gift from God and He wants us to use it and find enjoyment in it. But here’s the problem: when what is obsolete becomes more important to us than what will last forever, when what is obsolete distracts and gets in the way of our being strengthened in our faith through God’s Word, when what is obsolete becomes more important to us than God, when what is obsolete becomes our treasure, when envisioning any of the “stuff” of our life burning up hurts us or causes us pain. How much do you cling to what is obsolete? How much do I?
And we can see it in how we view Christmas. What’s most important about Christmas for us? Making sure all the decorations are just right, the tree is up on time, the favorite Christmas shows are watched, the family is all together, the right gifts are bought, favorite Christmas cookies are made? What is it that makes Christmas Christmas? No matter what Christmas is Christmas when you’re ready to receive the greatest gift of all no matter what: Christ the Savior.
And that’s exactly what it is that makes us ready for the end too. How are you ready for Christ’s 2nd coming? You’re ready when you’re ready to receive Christ. And the only way that you can be ready to receive Jesus when He comes in glory is if you are blameless, spotless, holy, godly, and at peace with him. “But wait! I’m a sinner! I’ve often made a mess of my life with my selfish thoughts, my warped priorities, my treasuring the obsolete things of this world, my neglect of God’s Word! I’m not spotless and blameless!” That’s true, but that’s not what God sees. You see, to God you are spotless and blameless, holy and at peace with Him. Why? Because God’s Son was born in a stable and laid in a manger, because God’s Son was holy and blameless, because God’s Son was laid upon a cross, dying to forgive your every sin and rising from the dead to declare you innocent. Because of that baby born in Bethlehem you are holy, blameless, and at peace with God!
And that’s why you are ready for Jesus’ return. One day all the things you see in the world will be destroyed, they will be utterly obsolete. And we are looking forward to this day because God will make a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. Someway somehow everything will be made new – heaven and earth will be combined and you and I will live in perfect peace, joy, gladness forever and ever!
You know, it’s funny at times to watch my 1 year old son David. Now you all know he does cry J, but there are times when all 3 of our other children are balling but if mom is smiling at him and holding him, he’s as happy as a lark. I’m convinced our house could be burning down and if mom or dad is smiling at him- everything is just great. And isn’t that how it is with you and me? With God’s love, his care, his grace, his peace who cares what’s going on in the world or what happens to the obsolete things of life. We have God’s love and His grace for he kept his promise to send a baby wrapped in cloths and placed in a manger, we have a Savior who died to rescue us and win a new heavens and a new earth for us! Let us live as His people and cling to the true treasures of His Word and Sacraments! And let us prepare for Christmas with the same excitement we have for when He comes again to take us to our real home in heaven! Amen.