Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Christ alone [Feast of the Reformation; Romans 3:19-28]

You have been justified freely, by grace for the sake of Christ, through faith.

This is a phrase you need memorized so that you may call it to the front of every conversation, thought, and deed you have. In deed, this is what was fought for and won by the Reformation: the clear proclamation of justification; in other words the Gospel.

God gives what He demands, in Jesus Christ. God demands justice. God demands Judgment. God demands knowledge. God demands witnesses. God demands righteousness. God demands belief. God demands Faith.

From the portion of Romans we heard this evening, these are a few of the demands of God’s Law that the sore and oppressed conscience can pick out. At the very start, the Lord stops our own mouths, because we are the ones who hear the Law speaking to us.

Remember, the Law is any and all commands coming from the Father, Son, or the Holy Ghost, so good works done by us also fall under this jurisdiction of the Law. For it is not just by the Law, but also by works of the Law comes the knowledge of sin. Meaning, whatever you do, you feel the press of God’s demands upon you to do more.

Let us pull out the main ideas from this reading: faith, justified, and righteousness and we believe that the exact righteousness that God demands is not to be found in the Law. Although we will hear of it, the Law does not give it to us, because, again, only sin comes by the Law.

What is this righteousness? It is Faith. Faith alone saves you, because all have heard the Law speak to them and so all have sinned. Yet, justification is a free gift by Grace alone. The proof of this is Jesus Christ; true man and true God, offered on the cross, in your place.

You do not discover this truth on your own, no matter how much seeking you do. God shows you; He proves it to you by His Word and faith comes by hearing, therefore it is by Scripture alone that we hear and believe our salvation in Jesus.

Grace alone. Faith alone. Scripture alone. This is all for you and all to prove to you God’s righteousness which consists of Him flagrantly turning a blind eye to our sins. Passing over them as if they never happened. God is God and this is how His Word says He works.

Not through us talking about ourselves at all, but us listening; sitting at God’s feet and listening to all that He has accomplished for us. Being reminded, again and again, that He is Just and Justifier. He is Just because He does what is right in punishing sin and sinners; Justifier, because He metes out judgment upon His Son, in our place.

Boasting, then, or talking about ourselves and how great we are doing with God on our side, is not just excluded, but it is excommunicated. There is no room in Justification for any testimony from you.

This is the meaning of Faith alone, Grace alone, and Scripture alone. This is the key to understanding that you have been justified freely, by grace for the sake of Christ, through faith. This is how you can sum up the Reformation, Lutheran doctrine and all of Church practice in two words:

Christ alone.

That’s it. For as thick as the Book of Concord is; for as difficult as the Athanasian Creed is; for as impossible as the Trinity is and as miraculous as the two natures in Christ are, all things are summed up in Christ alone.

All the answers to your prayers are in Christ alone. All of God’s promises are “yes” in Christ alone. The fate of the Church and the destiny of the Baptized are found in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ alone.

You have been justified, by grace, through faith for the sake of Christ alone. The righteousness of God is Christ alone. It is all about Jesus and it will continue to be all about Jesus, because the Gospel is free to everyone, even those who do not believe. For Jesus did not come for the righteous, but for the sinner. (Mt.9:13)

Monday, October 26, 2015

The donkey's bray [Trinity 21; St. John 4:46-54]

Jesus speaks to you in His Word, saying,
“The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.”

Last week, we talked of the Lutheran difference. That there is something that distinguishes St. Luke from the rest of the Rensselaer churches and that is Christ alone. Now, at first that doesn’t sound all that different, but what we believe in is what Jesus says about Himself. When His Word proclaims that He is working among us, physically, faith agrees.

This physical act of forgiving sins is called “sacramental”. Many religions only have a hard claim on the “spiritual”, meaning they can’t prove their god is working, but they can just feel it, or they just know it. Jesus, while also working spiritually, does not discard His body anymore than He neglects yours, thus He continues to work in His Church physically, or sacramentally.

Where your difficulty comes in, is in trying to understand a loving God even though there is so much suffering in the world. You try to believe Jesus can do miracles, but see so many people in poverty, in fear for their lives, and dying in hospitals.

You try to give them St. Paul’s words and tell them to put on the whole armor of God, but you don’t know how that works. You imagine it is some sort of mind-set that one must be in or a kind of complete submission to God. It never crosses your mind that St. Paul is speaking of a physical armor.

St. Paul speaks of “putting on Christ”, in Romans 13. That this is the “new self” (Eph.5:24) which God creates in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

St. Paul, here, and in many other places is simply commenting upon Jesus word when Jesus said, 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17)

If Jesus is simply being spiritual, then you have nothing to worry about. The entire Bible is just one big metaphor and you can make up how to interpret it as you go. In that thinking, you must also conclude that this son in today’s Gospel was not really raised from the dead. He may not have even been dead. He may just have been sick and, with the passing of a bit of time, got better.

It is easy then, to attribute that ‘miracle’ to Jesus, simply because He spoke about the son becoming well at the same time. Coincidence. Metaphor. Parlor Game.

But that is not what’s going on here. Jesus is healing this boy. He is bringing him back from the dead. This is not a myth. It is not a pick-me-up story and it does not mean that you just have to fall into Jesus and you too will be made well, spiritually.

We may liken this to a donkey who “put on the skin of a lion and went around frightening all the animals. The donkey saw a fox and tried to frighten her too, but she had heard his voice first, so she said to the donkey, 'You can be sure that I too would have been afraid, if I had not already heard the sound of your bray.’”

The donkey is caught in his own metaphor. Literally, he is unclothed by the fox. Even though the donkey had the right appearance and the right skin, he was not a lion. His view of things failed him, because he took “being a lion” to simply be a matter of interpretation.

Jesus says, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (Jn. 6:56). And in another place, “…believe [my] works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father. (Jn. 10:38). The command from Jesus is that we be found in Him. In a real and physical body, that He has, and not just a spiritual one. Jesus demands that we be in the full armor of God; actual, physical armor.

Putting on a show of superior spirituality or of good works no more makes us “in Christ” anymore than a lion skin makes an ass a lion.  What you need is concrete, touch, smell, see, hear and taste armor of God. The spiritual stuff doesn’t help in times of need, but a true Body does.

Dear Christians, hear this true and concrete promise from your Lord and Savior who has suffered, died and risen again. He says, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal.3:27)

Here is the answer to your question. What started with the creation of a real, physical world and concluded in the God-man, Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, is still being accomplished in your sight, even today. The way you fall into Jesus; the way you believe in Jesus; the way you have your life and being in Jesus is through baptism.

It is in this physical act of God that you are placed squarely into the true Body of Christ. Not a spiritual or metaphorical, but a real, living body. The armor of God is nothing else except the Body and Blood, given and shed for you upon the cross, of Christ.

This is the sacramental act of God. This is how God heals, preserves, and strengthens His people in our time: through His Sacraments. As God created a real world, so He creates real salvation through the real Body of Christ, that He still has!; (Remember Easter and St. Thomas!) in a real Church.

Sacramental: The combining of a promise of God to physical means. This is God’s presence in the world to forgive sins and this is Christ’s presence among us, in the Divine Service. This is the source of your comfort, your joy, and your strength, because now you do not have to manufacture the feeling of being saved or a life that has it all together.

These are now gifts that you can “fall into”. The free gift of baptism holds no requirement. You don’t have to be perfect beforehand. You don’t have to be religious or spiritual. Best of all, you don’t have to be dead or dying, in order to receive this gift. Jesus creates His Church by His blood and spirit in order that you are reminded that, the Lord Who created all things, creates free salvation in front of your face.

We know our sin actually kills us. We know our actual heart is full of actual evil. What good does a metaphorical clean heart or a spiritual right spirit do us? If this official’s son was not really raised from the dead; if the armor of God did not truly exist; if baptism and Communion were just symbols, then why did Christ need to die for a metaphor?

Christ died for the ungodly. Jesus died so that by His true Body and His True Blood, He might tear off the foul lion’s skin we have draped upon ourselves and replace it with Himself. And it is in the sacraments, that we can touch, smell, taste, see and hear this Promise, know it is for us, and return to it in times of trouble. Spiritual or otherwise.

It is easy to say to someone that the only thing you need to do to be forgiven is to return home to your heavenly father, but where is He and where is home? If all I need to do is turn to Jesus, where is that left turn? If that place is somewhere other than the sacraments, you are not dealing with the one, true God.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What's the difference? [Feast of St. Luke; St. Luke 10:1-9]

Jesus speaks to you today saying,
“And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.”

God does not let you choose Jesus, in order to be saved. No matter your intentions, the things that Jesus is doing in your life today, is not the Gospel. The things you are doing for Jesus no more makes you a son of peace than it makes you a Christian. You do not choose to be a son of peace, Jesus makes you a son of peace.

“At this point, what difference does it make” has become a famous saying, recently, and even though it was said in complete disregard of duty and decency, it makes a point.

We have the internet, so what difference does it make if I write a letter or an instant message? We have government run social programs, so what difference does it make if I neglect those in need? We have over 25 “churches” within the city limits of Rensselaer, what difference does it make which I, or anyone else, go to?

Familiarity breeds contempt. You have so many options that you begin to treat the true Church with contempt. Day after day, Church does the same thing. Maybe you need to spice Sunday up a bit and go somewhere else. What difference does it make?

Life is the same way for you. Will you go to college or some other school, after High School? Will you buy or build your house? Will you get married or remain single?

Life has become a smorgasbord of “what difference does it make” and no one is going to tell you what to do or how to do it. Don’t tell me how to live my life. Just because you think I’m wrong doesn’t make it so. What’s true for me may not be true for you.

With this same mindset, you come to Church and you read the Holy Scriptures. Religion becomes a big buffet table where you take what you want because you like it and leave what you want because you don’t. But, Christianity in America is so far down the rabbit hole, at this point, what difference does it make?

What do you say about your church, the LWML, or the Synod to others? Or better yet, what do others say about St. Luke? Is it enough to be open, warm, and caring? Is it just ok if someone comes and feels welcome? Is it good enough that the programs we put on all look the same as everywhere else?

If St. Luke wants to look like everyone else then there is no point in the doors remaining open. If the evangelist had nothing new to say, then he had no business writing a third Gospel. If Christianity, indeed, Lutheranism is no different or doesn’t have something more special to offer, why are we here?

Repent! The Apostles knew they had something different; something that the world would hate and kill them for and yet they preached Christ Crucified loud and proud. St. Luke didn’t try hard to be different, exclusive, or marketable. All he did was present the Gospel which is more than enough to reveal sin and reveal the Savior.

Jesus is different. He has come to kindle a fire that is completely different than anything the world gives and He comes to give Peace very much UN-like the world has to offer. That is because this fire and this peace comes through suffering and through the cross.

Jesus is the Son of Peace Who is made man, suffers, and dies in order that the Gospel reach you. Not the gospel of a wonderful life or the gospel of having it made in the shade. This is the Gospel of the one, true God Who offers up His Son in your place, reconciling you with God.

Where we need 2 or 3 witnesses. Jesus witnesses of Himself. His Word tells us He is born of a virgin, that He is true God, and true man. His Word reveals to us a Law that has been transgressed and a Savior that has freed us from that Law.

It is only by the Word of Christ that pastors have anything to preach. It is only in the Word of the Cross, that true faith is given. It is only in the preaching of the Gospel that salvation is produced in you.

What St. Luke offers in his gospel account and what St. Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church, the LWML, and the Synod have to offer Rensselaer is Christ crucified. What we want people to walk away with, when they visit, is, “those folks sure do talk about Christ a lot. They must be Christian.”

Do you see? Did you hear? A true son of peace is only recognized by the fact that all he talks about is true peace found in Jesus. Likewise, the community will know we are Christians by our Christ and His Word and Sacraments.

If we only talk about Bibles and verses, they would call us Biblicists and Verseasists. If we only talk about good works and love, they would call us social workers and hippies. If we would only talk about ourselves and God doing good things to us, they would call us narcissists.

Thank God for the Gospel. Thank God for Christ. We do not have to talk about anything other than Jesus, for He is the author and perfecter of our faith. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift from above. He is the true Baptizer, the true Speaker, and the true sacrifice.

I count all but loss that I Christ may obtain and this is so important, that the Church created the Small Catechism and the hymnal for just this purpose. That in those you may find simple truths that truly separate a son of peace from a son of perdition. The difference St. Luke, the LWML, and the Synod can make in this community is very simply speaking the plain words of the small catechism, not just to others, but to our own families as well.

So, what difference does it make? It is the difference between life and death. We do not want to throw around God’s Word as if nothing happened when we did. In fact, each time we speak a part of Holy Scripture, God is speaking and something is generated. God’s Word is a two-edged sword that should not be taken lightly.

The Lutheran difference; the Small Catechism difference is that God has given His Word in the 10 Commands, the Apostle’s Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer. That God has shown us salvation in Baptism, Confession and Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper.

Most importantly, Jesus has revealed that this is the only way God is working in the world: through the Word. If you can not find it in the Word, God is not doing it. If you can not hear it from the Word, God is not speaking it. Your feelings and decisions are not in the Word; Jesus is.

Jesus gives Himself to this community by His Word and Sacraments. We ought to, too.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Visiting the Sick [Trinity 19; St. Matthew 9:1-8]

Jesus is speaking to you, from His own Gospel, saying,
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he then said to the paralytic—‘Rise, pick up your bed and go home.’”

Last week, we heard that the Greatest Commandment was to love God and love your neighbor as yourself and what that meant was belief in Christ. For, belief in Christ fulfills not only loving God, but also loving your neighbor, because the best you can do for your neighbor is preach the Gospel to him that he might be saved.

Which is exactly what Jesus is doing today, in His own visiting of the sick. Jesus is visited by this sick man, preaches forgiveness of sins to him, and then seems to leave the man in his paralysis. What kind of loving, neighbor is that?

However, holy Scripture is full of the mandate to visit the sick and relieve them of their illness. Jesus speaking on the Sheep and the Goats tells you of those who were sick that you have not visited (Mt. 25). Even St. James calls for the elders of the Church to visit, pray over, and anoint them in order that they be restored by the Lord (Jas. 5:14-15).

The duty of a Christian is to visit the sick. Think of how you would feel if you were to be sitting alone in a strange bed in a strange place for hours, with nothing to do except contemplate your own possible death, in light of your illness.

If you truly love your neighbor as yourself, then more people than the pastor need to be visiting those who are sick among us. Being a Christian means being motivated by the Holy Spirit and that motivation reveals itself in acts of love.

You know where the hospital is, don’t you? You know where your sick friends live, right? This is not rocket science.

Jesus, likewise knew a neighbor in need when He saw one and so did St. James. St. James says, “…and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.

Now that’s funny. Its funny because St. James says that this prayer will restore the sick person to health, but he also says the Lord will raise him up. Almost as if it is not the prayer itself, but the one Who is prayed to. Then he concludes with the forgiveness of sins, which has nothing to do with illness, according to most.

One of the popular, misleading sayings today is “Preach the Gospel, if necessary, use words.” Another is like it: we need to stop preaching and do more. We need to show that we are Christians by the love we can do, instead of the love that is preached.

Again, very true, condemning words coming from our neighbors and from God Himself. The Holy Ghost is not idle so neither can a Christian be idle.

Repent. You are idle. You have more time to complain about unnecessary things, than you do to visit your neighbors. Or maybe its because you feel you have nothing to offer and doubt the Word of God in its healing promises?

This would make more sense seeing as how you haven’t really seen a miraculous healing and if you were to accomplish one, personally, it would probably scare you to death. Thus, you leave the sick to the sick, because it seems like there is nothing you can do.

Dear Christians, this is what St. James and Jesus are telling you. St. James is not giving you a magical recipe for healing all disease; it just doesn’t happen. Neither is Jesus allowing for it to happen that way. Jesus is showing us that even if we were to speak over a paralyzed man, he would not recover and neither could we forgive his sins.

But who can?! Jesus can. How does He heal? Through the cross.

Jesus says that in order that you know the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth. This means that the healing of the paralytic was only done so that you could see that Jesus is God and that He is not only going to suffer and die, but rise again three days later.

Jesus illustrates this by his question to you: which is easier, to say “your sins are forgiven” or to say “Rise and walk” to a sick person? In fact, both are impossible. You can say them, but they accomplish nothing.

St. James then brings this point home by stating that it is the Lord Who will raise up the sick. The prayer of the righteous man availeth much, but not without Christ and His cross.

Take heart, dear Christians. The Jesus who says, “Rise and walk” is also the crucified and resurrected Jesus who says “your sins are forgiven”, to you. If Jesus was making a way to heal everyone we pray for, it is a broken way. He is not. He is making a way of salvation that transcends illness and transcends doubt.

Jesus places Himself on the cross and prays for your forgiveness as He is dying. And it is in His dying that we find both impossible questions fulfilled. One of the reasons we keep crucifixes in Church, crosses with a body on it, is because that is where forgiveness and healing comes from; at that moment.

Thus, the Son of Man has authority to heal and forgive sins and the authority to lose His life and pick it up again, making all His claims about Himself, the world, and you truer than true.

Jesus has defeated sin, death, and this diseased world. Which is why the Church continues to pray for healing in the midst of death: because Christ is true healing and He is true life. The implication being that the paralytic could have stayed paralyzed and still have been resurrected to paradise, with His Lord and Savior.

The same is true for you. You are paralyzed unto death in your sin and yet all your doubt and neglect has been crucified upon Jesus. Though we look healthy, we are just as bad off as the terminal wing of the hospitals. If we don’t have a Savior Who can heal and forgive and rise from the dead, we die in our sin.

The Good News for the sick that you visit cheerfully and often is that Christ has conquered their sickness, will guard their faith through it, and will relive them and heal them perfectly in a death like His.

If God wants to relieve us of our temporal pain and suffering, He can and maybe He will. But His promise is in His Son who has all authority in heaven and earth and chooses this way to teach you the way of salvation. That is through suffering as He Himself suffered for us.

The Good News for the sick is not that you send them good thoughts and positivity, but that you send them the Word of God, their pastor, and the sacraments in which we hear of our true savior healing and forgiving in the only and best way: His Way: through the Gospel of Christ crucified.

You have already been baptized into death to live a new live before God. Take heart, death has no more dominion over you. This is the Word of Christ.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The End [Trinity 18; St. Matthew 22:34-46]

Jesus speaks to us today, saying,
“What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”

So, you are all still here. The Blood moons were yet another natural phenomenon exploited for profit and fear mongering. As we have said before, as long as humanity is in danger and a cause to save it can be established, there will be no end to the Tyrants who are ready and willing to take up their great and noble mantle to lead you poor plebeians to enlightenment.

Let us speak of a few things, then today. Let us talk about revival. Let us talk about the End of all things and let us talk about Who Jesus is.

The word “revival” is translated as “to bring back to life”. So, when someone comes up to you and says you need a revival, they are first saying that you are dead and your faith isn’t worth very much. Be offended.

Only the Holy Ghost, working in and through the Word of God revives, for we are dead. Think of it this way: when you hear about the world coming to an end and see all the Bible quotes “proving” it, you grow concerned because now it all seems very real; God and heaven and eternal life and all that.

You feel cornered, unprepared, and very small. You feel that even Jesus is against you. The world will end, what do we do? Where is the big tent revival to comfort us in our hour of need? Human emotions do not save. Human testimonies do not save. Baptism saves and that’s the only revival God’s Word speaks of.

Thus, the end of all things becomes a great platform with which to scare Christians into obedience. If the end is coming this week you better tell as many people about Jesus as you can. Forget going to work or caring for your newborn; you got souls to save.

If the end is coming soon, you better not be found in sin, either, or the Lord won’t let you in. Not only does this fear mongering promote book sales, but it also turns your eyes to the flesh.  Now you are focused on your own sin and your neighbor’s sin, where the Word wants you focused on Christ.

What all this false teaching boils down to is doubt as to Who the Christ is and what His Word is. You can quote the Bible at each other all day and make it say exactly what you want it to say for whatever line you’re trying to sell.

And the big money is in obedience and programs to help you become more obedient. If you would just obey God, He would bless you. If you would just be more like Jesus, you wouldn’t have to worry. If you would just be more Christ-like, you would have more friends online and win more souls for Jesus. You. You. You.

Repent! Though I speak of these things sarcastically, there is real accusation from God in them. Why aren’t you able to spot false teaching right away? Why do you believe every fad and fancy that smells Christian? God speaks volumes in the Law against your sin and it is exactly this: Why do you doubt His Word?

Jesus did not cause all Holy Scripture to be written for your confusion nor was it written as a mystery novel with a secret decoder ring. Jesus caused all Holy Scripture to be written. Period. Jesus did and Jesus is God so that tells you what you are reading right there: holy words of God Himself.

Jesus knew what He was writing and what we would hear. Thus He gives us the Key to Scripture that is that it is all about Jesus. That in the Prophets, we find Jesus. In the Psalms, we find Jesus. In the Law, we find Jesus. In the prophesies about the end times, we find the Christ who is Lord and the son of David.

As an example, take the OT reading for today. Moses writes to us telling us to circumcise the foreskin of our hearts. Now is this literal or figurative? Who is going to have the authority to say either? How do you know God meant it as figurative language and not literal?

The same bait and switch is used by all of these false, end-times prophets. They use the Word of God however they choose, mixing and mingling the figurative with the literal without even a mention of Jesus, to get you to obey. And you do because it sounds Christian.

The key to identifying false teaching is Jesus Himself. St. Paul boasted that he only claimed to know Christ and Him crucified among the churches he visited. The only thing that St. Paul used to create, plant, and strengthen churches was Jesus, suffering and dying on the cross, because that is where the Law, the Prophets, and your sin hangs: on Jesus, on the cross.

What do revivals have to do with Jesus suffering and dying? Nothing. They are false teachings. What do blood moons and predictions of the end of all things have to do with Jesus on the cross? Nothing. More false teachings.

See how easy it is? When Jesus causes something to be written, like “no one knows the time or the day”, He means it. When Jesus gives the Holy Ghost to write that new life and true revival comes from Christ alone, He means it.

Simply obeying God no more makes you an heir of eternal life any more than obeying a stop sign makes you a stop sign. However, contrary to popular belief, going to Church and hearing the Word of God taught in its purity will make you a Christian, will give you faith, and will reveal that by it, you are already an heir of eternal life!

Jesus has done nothing in secret. He has not let us an unopened gift in the shape of a Chinese trap box, impossible to open, and not even the cleverest twister of Holy Scripture can take the Good News that Jesus is for you.

In fact, the Word of God is given to confound the wise. You could almost say, the more you know, the less you understand. The more you try and parse yourself away from the simple words of the Gospel, the farther from Christ you get.

The pure, simple Gospel is this: Jesus came to serve. Jesus came to speak to you. Jesus came to save you and He does it without your prayers. The closest you get to God is being baptized into His true Body. The closest you get to God is sitting at His feet and listening to Him speak through His Word. The closest you get to God is ingesting His Body and Blood.

That is the Gospel and that is the center of life for the Christian. This is why Church is so important, because in it we hear the Word of God which is the power for salvation. There is no power of salvation in social work. There is no power of salvation in predictions and there is no power of salvation within you.

Slavation is a free gift of God. By Jesus’ suffering and death, Jesus has hung the Law and the prophets on the cross. Jesus is the end of the law, meaning all works, good and bad; all sacrifices, good and bad; and all prophets, good and bad. All things not just find their end in Jesus, but their fulfillment.

This world will also find its fulfillment in Jesus. The End of all things will not just be about those in the know. It will be about everyone, of all time, because that is Who Jesus died for: everyone. The End will happen to everyone at the same time.

The way of salvation is already revealed and that is suffering, through the cross. The Bride has already been revealed: She is the Church who possess her Lord in Word and Sacrament. Everlasting life has already been bestowed. There are no more preparations to make. There are no more works to do. There is only one thing: to wait in this mighty fortress.

Dear Christians, you wait in hope and confidence. Hope because your Savior has promised you eternity with Him on account of His works. Confidence, because you have been baptized squarely within the body of the Almighty God and no bullet or end of the world will change that.

In this way, the Church has all the time in the world. Could the end happen tomorrow? Maybe. Could the end have come last Wednesday as everyone wanted it to be? Sure. It doesn’t matter. What Jesus says you don’t need to know, you don’t need to know, because you are already in the Book of Life.

So you pray; the Church prays, for the End to come quickly. If it’s tomorrow, great! We then are with our Lord forever, away from fear and mass shootings. If it’s much longer after that, great! We can live here, in the confidence that we are meant to serve our neighbor and share the hope that is in us.

And that hope is in Christ alone. How are you apart of that? Baptism.