11/18/2018 Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost The text is Mark 13:1-8 & Hebrews 10:11-25.
Grace and peace to you from God, our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Several years ago, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks did a comedy skit called the “2013-Year-Old Man”. You may remember it. In the skit, Reiner interviews Brooks, who is the old gentleman. At one point, Reiner asks the old man, “Did you always believe in the Lord?”
Brooks replied: “No. We had a guy in our village named Phil, and for a time we worshiped him.”
Reiner: You worshiped a guy named Phil? Why?
Brooks: Because he was big, and mean, and he could break you in two with his bare hands!
Reiner: Did you have prayers?
Brooks: Yes, would you like to hear one? O Phil, please don’t be mean, and hurt us, or break us in two with your bare hands.
Reiner: So when did you start worshiping the Lord?
Brooks: Well, one day a big thunderstorm came up, and a lightning bolt hit Phil. We gathered around and saw that he was dead. Then we said to one another, “There’s somethin’ bigger than Phil!”
Today, through the grace of God, we know who what is bigger than Phil! Today, through the grace of God, we believe in one who can rebuild the temple of his body in three days after it is destroyed through death. Today, through the grace of God, we know we are safe – for no matter what happens in the years to come, we have a savior in Jesus Christ.
It is because of this belief, this faith in Jesus, that today we will receive two new members through the sacrament of Holy Baptism. It is because of this belief, this faith in Jesus, that we look at death as something beyond the period of the last sentence of an obituary. In death we see the gateway to a new life in which the struggles of this world are vanquished forever. It is because of this belief, this faith in Jesus, that we are here today, worshipping the Lord and giver of life.
But not everyone believes…not everyone shares our hope and faith in Jesus and his promises that take away the fear of an unknown future and the uncertainty of tomorrow. Not everyone knows that through Jesus our sins are forgiven and that we are bound together…for better or for worse…as family. Not everyone accepts the grace and mercy of God which is freely given through the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf.
We live in a broken world in which people grasp for any straws to find the courage to meet the challenges of a new day. Some find out the hard way that drugs cannot provide what is needed. Some find out the hard way that gangs and the violence that comes with them cannot provide what is needed. Some find out the hard way that getting what you want through whatever means you can will never provide enough to secure a future. What we need today, tomorrow and all days to come is a God who holds today, and tomorrow, and all days to come safely in his care. And that is what we have.
We believe this or we wouldn’t be here today. We trust this or we would not come to the font for baptism. But, this faith and trust in God does not eliminate anxiety about the future or tears over the loss of a loved one. We remain, as the disciples of old, as human beings with limited understanding. We hear the promises of a grace-filled future and we want to know what those promises mean for us. We hear of an end time and we want to know when it will happen. We want to be prepared as if the cross of Christ is not enough.
Martin Luther was once asked what he would do if he knew that the world was coming to an end tomorrow, and he said: “I would plant an apple tree.” In other words, Luther, trusting in God’s gracious, unmerited mercy would live life just as he had been living it. When John Wesley was asked the same thing, being an obsessive-compulsive type, he said that he would arise at 4:00 AM, preach at 5:00 visit the sick at 7:00, go to communion at 8:00…etc., until the questioner realized that that was exactly what John Wesley had planned to do tomorrow anyway!
Because we believe in the God who revealed himself in Jesus Christ, we can dare to live each and every day in faith and hope and love. For, if the world should end tomorrow, we remain enfolded in the promises of God through Christ Jesus, our Lord.
And so we baptize. And so we worship. And so we do not neglect to meet together. And so we encourage one another and we hold fast to the confession of our hope. We do this and all things because we believe. We trust. We put our faith in Christ. And this faith and trust will never be in vain.
So dare to live each day as if this day you will Christ face to face. And may the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.