Lord God, heavenly Father, send forth Your Son, we pray, that he may lead home His bride, the Church, that we will all the redeemed may enter into Your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.
As we turn our sights toward Bethlehem’s manger we focus on our celebration of Christ’s coming into this world and at the same time we wait in anticipation of His sure and certain return in glory. This is what the season of Advent is all about. The question is when. When shall these things be? The message from our Gospel lesson for this morning is simple yet profound – watch and wait.
I. No one knows when Christ will return.
A. The Son, as a human being did not know when the end would come.
1. This proves His human nature. As a human He was limited in knowledge.
2. For your comfort Jesus was completely human in every way except, of course without sinning. Jesus was completely human. He identifies with you in every conceivable way.
B. Neither do the angels know the time of the end.
1. They are created beings sent to serve God and His children. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” [Hebrews 1:14]
2. Even though they “continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” [Matthew 18:10] As lower beings they are limited in knowledge. They too do not known when the end will come.
C. Only the Father knows. He has set a time, fixed for this world to come to an end.
1. He is the Creator and Lord of all.
2. He alone will bring this world to a close.
3. In between (Creation and the end of all time) He will order your days and direct your path. In His sure hands we are secure.
Transition: When I was in high school I had a geometry teacher by the name of Anna Retrum. Anna Retrum was raised in Tennessee. Speaking in her thick southern accent one day she asked, “Dan what are you doing?” I replied, “Getting ready for my next class.” She replied, “There are still five minutes left in class. 5 minuets times 170 days of school equals 14 hours and 16 minuets of geometry that you’re wasting. Now get busy!” We do not know when the end will come. This does not mean we must stand by idly. There is much work for us to do. The Lord says to us today, “Get busy!”
II. We must therefore be prepared to meet the Lord when He comes in glory.
A. He will return at a time when people least expect.
1. Many think Christ’s return will come when things are going badly.
a. Wars and rumors of wars.
b. Harsh economic times.
c. Stresses within and without the church or family.
2. When will the end come?
a. When the last pagan is converted.
b. When the full number of believers in Christ has been reached.
B. We must make use of the time that we have “keeping busy!”
1. Serve where God had planted you.
a. Called to be Christ’s servants.
b. Called to be His witnesses in this generation.
2. Use the gifts God has given you.
a. Serve where God has planted you.
b. Use the tools of salvation which God has given you.
1. Love God.
2. Help and serve your neighbor.
Now we are in Advent. In the words of that old spiritual, “Soon and very soon we are going to see the King.” With joy we can meet Him now in those places He can be found – His Word, His Sacraments, His promise of forgiveness. God be praised!
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 and Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House
Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use