In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Beware, O Daughter of Zion: the fig tree is thick with buds. The nations are perplexed. Men’s hearts are failing. Cowards and sycophants, those false preachers who scratch the itchy ears of men, those vain liars who hide behind their sophistry and wicked vocabulary calling debauchery and vice “victimless,” naming babies “fetuses” or “embryos” and the slaughter houses “clinics,” those who pretend as though sodomy is wholesome, those petty tyrants who enslave their people and oppress their friends, and those hypocrites who attempt to use the Church for their own gain, they, and we all, will be exposed. Repent. The Kingdom draws near. Your salvation is coming. Beware. And rejoice.
Last week we begged our Lord, Jesus Christ, to stir up His power and come. We asked this because of His enduring promise; because He has said that He will be Our God. He will save us. We want Him to fulfill His Word. We want to be Isaac set loose from the altar. We want to be Jacob limping away, the deceiver no more but with a new and noble name. We want to be Joseph’s hateful brothers rescued from famine and living in peace with their father and brother. We want to be Paul changed from a persecutor to an Apostle and a martyr. We do not merely ask for help, for a little something to get us by until we are on our feet again, or even for some small thing to make the holidays special. We are asking for rescue. We are in mortal danger because of our sins. We are surrounded by demonic forces and liars. We are cold, tired, and afraid. Left on our own we’d have no hope. Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come. Do not leave us alone for you are our Hope and your Word is true.
Stir up our hearts, O Lord. That is our prayer this week. We pray that the Power of God in the Flesh, the Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son, would stir us up. Stir up our hearts, O Lord. For we are in danger of growing bored and cold. Our flesh is weak. We are tempted to neglect the watch, to indulge our baser desires, to forget who we are and what we are waiting for. We are tempted to pretend that we are too theological to care about social justice. We need the Lord to stir up our hearts, to rouse us from selfish slumber, to prepare and make us ready for His coming now in Word and in Sacrament and for His coming soon in glory.
The Spirit stirs us to repentance. It is like being woke up too early on a dreary December day. We’d rather roll over and bury ourselves in the covers than repent. When they were frozen, our hearts were numb. But as they thaw at the Spirit’s stirring they shoots needles of pain into our souls. Turning from our sin and towards God is difficult. It is even painful. Nonetheless we pray that He would stir us up. For if He doesn’t we die an eternal death. The Word of God is a sword. It is meant for killing. It cuts us off from our old life. It exposes our shameful weaknesses. We may have fooled men, but we never fooled God. He saw the things we did in secret. He heard the black thoughts and depraved fantasies that played out in the backs of our minds. Repent. God knows what you’ve done, what you’ve dreamed, what you’ve thought. And yet, despite that, He loves you.
He became a servant to the circumcision. He suffered under the Law you failed to keep. He did all that it demanded. He abstained from all that it forbid. He then allowed the Law to do to Him all it should have done to you. His circumcision has completed circumcision. He has filled up the Law. It can ask no more. There is no one to accuse you. Friend, go up higher. Take the place of honor. You are the beloved of the Son, His chosen virgin bride, the object of His desire and the motivation for His sacrifice. He has counted you worthy of the price. The Holy Trinity has given all He is to have you. He gladly paid for you. He does not regret it. He loves you. The promise made to the fathers is that this mercy endures forever. He forgives iniquity. He is gracious and kind. He is the Root of Jesse, born of a virgin, crucified and raised again for your justification. He is your hope and your salvation.
Look up. Lift up your heads. Your redemption draws near! His Word will not pass away. It is true. It is valid. It is certain. It will come to be just as He said it would. It will not fail. This enduring and gracious Word made flesh was placed into you in the waters of Holy Baptism. Water and the Name of God called you by His Name, a new and noble name, a deceiver and betrayer no more. He made you His. He cannot forget you. You are His Bride. God has joined you together. No man can put you asunder. You have left your father the devil and become one flesh with the crucified and risen God of Abraham. Heaven and earth will fail, but His Word will not. This holy marriage will not end. It will endure forever. His Word abides in you. You eat His Body and drink His Blood. His Word rings in your ear and is upon your lips. Thus, you will not fail. You will not pass away. You will live forever.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Rev’d David H. Petersen
Redeemer Lutheran Church
Fort Wayne, Indiana