Sermon the Twenty-fifth Sunday After Pentecost + November 14, 2010
Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Hickory, NC
Come Lord Jesus
Come Lord Jesus, was one of the table graces I learned as a child. My siblings and I memorized it and used it until we could pray with our own words. Prayers that were simple, childlike, words of thanks, words to connect us with Jesus, words to name that the day, the food and the time around that table were the Lord’s.
- Bold words, Come Lord Jesus.
- Bold words, Thy Kingdom Come.
- Bold words not asking for God’s presence, but words announcing it, words proclaiming it, words we hold our hope, trust and belief in.
The theme that weaves itself through God’s Word this day is all about the day of the Lord. All days are the Lord’s, good days, bad days, and days unknown. Days promised in Malachi. Days when we think the end is near. Days when we are encouraged by the likes of Paul to not grow weary in doing God’s work with our hands. Days when we worry about the signs of disaster that fill the world.
Days when the news is filled with Hurricanes returning to Haiti, volcanoes exploding in Indonesia, an 11.7% local unemployment rate, a missing ten-year old… or more personal news that has just been revealed shaking you to your very core: a job lost, a relationship ended, a medical condition diagnosed.
- Days when the Gospel warns that the time of the end is not known…
- Days that are as Luke writes indefinite…
- Days when signs and news unveiled might make it seem as if the end is at hand…
- Days when we wish for an end, but it does not come when we want…
- Days when our childhood prayer Come Lord Jesus takes on new meaning, new urgency, new voice.
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Ask someone here in Hickory what the world “apocalypse” means and they may turn away from you. They may point to their bumper sticker that says something like “Warning: in case of rapture, this car will be unmanned.” They may answer you with quotes from Daniel or Revelation, or even the words from Malachi and Luke we just heard. In fact this section of Luke is even known as the little apocalypse.
The word apocalypse itself brings images of catastrophic events and end times. But fear not, the word apocalypse from the Greek, literally means to be revealed, or the lifting of the veil.
Unveilings are more that the pulling back of a piece of cloth and the words, ta-da! I think of unveilings I’ve been to…the curtain rises on a play opening, the orchestra swells for the debut of a new piece, cover is opened at a book signing, a cloth is raised from a grave marker. I think of unveilings you the people of Mount Olive have been to… sanctuary renovation plans updated, or new prayer chapel unveiled for all the past, present, and future saints of this place.
Unveilings are apocalypses. Try that one out on a friend… yup I was at church this morning and we had an apocalypse… I saw a carpet sample! But even as things are unveiled, we don’t know them fully… we don’t know how the art will be received, the play or concert reviewed, the actual look of this space when it is done, or the prayers that will be said in the chapel. We know and see dimly, may have a sense of what is to come, but do not fully know what the future holds.
Apocalypse, the word does not mean the end of the world as we know it (even if you don’t like the color picked for the sanctuary carpeting). It does not imply pending doom, catastrophe, war, death and persecution. It speaks to the action of things being made known, a veil being lifted…
- It is our sinful and broken ways that fill in the blanks, revealing of our need to be in control and know what tomorrow brings.
- It is our sinful and broken ways that places meaning and blame when bad things happen, revealing our deepest fears about our communities, our families, our selves.
- It is our sinful and broken ways that have throughout all time caused war, perpetrated hate and injustice (often in the name of Christ or our nation), revealing our fear and hate of people and places that are different or unknown to us.
But in the end Jesus is not interested in telling us what will happen in the future, rather Jesus is all about coming into our lives, breaking through our sinful and broken ways.
We pray, we cry, we hope… Come Lord Jesus, and he shows up! He shows up in your life, in your kitchen, in your workplace, in your school, in all you do. Whether you call on him, or not… Whether you are acting like sinners or saints… Jesus shows up because He says, no He promises He will!
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In Luke’s little apocalypse, Jesus is giving a farewell talk. Jesus reaches out beyond the privileged few, the disciples and close friends with a message for all who listen…
- He starts with the Temple but quickly moves beyond… everything in the world will pass away (v. 5-6)
- He warns would be followers not to be deceived by imposters… there will be false teachers, don’t be led astray by them (v. 7-8)
- He asks them to be discerning as they face future events that will be confusing… there will be catastrophes, don’t be afraid (v. 9-11)
- He notes that following him will set us against the selfish ways of the world and even family members… don’t be surprised by, or run away from conflict (v. 12, 16-17)
- He shares that there will be a time when we will need to account for following him… don’t worry about it ahead of time, I’ll be there with you. I’ll give you the wisdom and the words you’ll need when the time comes (v. 13-15)
- He promises that we will not perish… believe me you won’t die, by enduring, you will save your true self (v. 18-19)
Jesus doesn’t promise us an easy life. Instead, He tells us the truth and promises that in the end, the truth will set us free.
In the end Jesus comes to us. Jesus promises that in the end, even when we are in the midst of the worst the world can throw at us, wisdom and words will be revealed, unveiled for us to use. We will be given the wisdom and words from God, so irrefutable and so irresistible, that when we reveal them, we will endure.
In the end, the veil will be fully lifted. In Greek the word “end” is used in two ways, it means either the destruction of something, or the perfecting of something. We know and if we admit it, fear the end as in destruction of something. But the end Jesus speaks of is the perfecting kind of end, like when an artist is finished with a work and the veil is fully lifted. The perfected work is finished, and revealed so we can see it, or hear it, or touch it, or taste it.
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As a people who believe in God the Father our creator, God the Son our savior, and God the Spirit our sustainer, we are living art.
- We are the created handiwork of God, made in God’s own image, unveiled as children of God.
- We are perfected by the cross of Christ, washed in His blood, unveiled as forgiven sinners in the waters of baptism.
- We are sustained by the very breath of God blowing in and through our lives, fed at God’s table, unveiled as God’s body, bread to be given away to a world that hungers.
There is a veil on the communion table that is about to be unveiled, revealing in part our Holy one, Holy Three.
- A veil lifted to reveal a simple meal of bread and wine.
- A veil lifted to reveal God’s Word that we will hear with our ears, taste with our mouths, see with our eyes.
- A veil lifted on the Bread of Heaven and the Cup of salvation we will consume, and that will consume us.
- A veil lifted to reveal the grace of God for the people of God.
Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let this food to us be blessed!