Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Sunday Nov. 22nd 2015 - / Mark 13:24-37 / The End - Relief or Anxiety
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Sunday November 22nd 2015, Series (b) “The End - Relief or Anxiety” Mark 13:24-37
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Tension is that feeling of nervousness that makes you unable to relax. It often comes when you are stretched between two things. There are times when people are stretched between the past and the present, today - the Last Sunday of the Church Year - there is a strong focus on being stretched between the present and the future: This moment and The Last Day, between the now and the End. Is there any relief for this tension? Can you relax?
The End of something brings on either relief or anxiety. The end of the day, the end of a job, the end of a life, the end of hardship, the end of a meal, the end of the night, the end of the World, the End of time, the end of your time here in this life. If you feel nervousness about some of these things you are not alone. Jesus has something to say to you. On the one hand in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says, "do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble," and on the other hand Jesus says in today's Gospel reading from Mark, “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that [Son of Man] is near, at the very gates:" So Jesus says, "Be on guard, keep awake," and He also says, "do not be anxious about tomorrow." This can create tension. Which is it? Am I to be looking ahead? or am I to be focused on the present? Truly, it isn't actually an either/or kind of thing it's really a both/and kind of thing. When the question is asked "Which is it? Am I to be looking ahead? or am I to be focused on the present?" The answer is yes.
Here is good news for you, something to help you relax, something to relive the tension that sin, death, the devil, the world, and that even you yourself put upon yourself. And here it is. Whether you are thinking of today or you are looking to The End you are not alone, Jesus is standing there with you. As a baptized child of God, in His Holy Word Jesus is here with you today in your joy, in your present tribulation, He comes to you in Holy Communion as He promises, and after your tribulation in life has passed, when the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken, on that Day - on the Last Day - there too Jesus stands - not apart from you but you with Him - there on the Last Day you are with Jesus. Saint Paul tells us that, "the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." So yes even on the Last Day you will not be alone, on the Last Day Jesus is with you and you are with Him, you will be together with all those who believe in Jesus, who put their hope in Jesus, who trust in Jesus. On that day He is coming to redeem you, to bring to completion what He has begun in you, in your baptism. He comes to usher you into eternal life. On that Day you are made new, along with all things.
As is said in the book of Ecclesiastes, "Better is the end of a thing than its beginning." Yet even knowing all this there is a great temptation to fear, to be unsure. The Devil whispers in your ears ... "you're not good enough for the love of God," Jesus who loves you says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." Sin whispers in your ears, "What you did was too evil to forgive," Jesus who forgives you says, "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it." Death whispers in your ear, "Your life is over," Jesus who died for you, who was risen from the dead for you, says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die." The World whispers in your ear, "if it feels good do it, if it makes you happy today do it, do whatever you have to do to be rich and satisfied," Jesus who resisted every temptation for you says, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." And there, in heaven, your heart will have no trouble.
Therefore because of Jesus, "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." When you worry, when you're anxious talk to God about it. Talk to Jesus about it. Seek out the mutual consolation of your brothers and sisters in Christ. When you don't even know what to say, remember the Holy Spirit helps you in your weakness. Even when you do not know what to pray for, or how to pray for it, indeed the Holy "Spirit Himself intercedes for [you] with groanings too deep for words."
Because we do not know the day or the hour of The End, we are called to live a life of watchfulness, Jesus says, "Be on guard, keep awake," don't be caught sleeping. So what does the life of staying awake look like? Jude says, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh." Essentially relax the end will come when the end comes, today let your tension and nervousness be set aside, keep your eyes on Jesus, pray in His name, congregate together as Christians like we're doing today - and with the people around you - whoever they may be, whatever their situation - have mercy, have mercy, have mercy. The same mercy God gives you, give to others. Up to the last second it's business as usual: "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength ... love your neighbour as yourself." And remember it is Jesus who did all of this perfectly in your place.
You need not be stretched between the present and The End, Jesus is here now, He is there already and you are baptized into Him. Live life today trusting in Jesus' forgiveness and remember on the Last Day, whenever that shall come Jesus, "will send out the angels and gather [us] from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven." You will be gathered to Him and on that day it will not only be the end of the World it will also be the end of Sinning, the end of Death, the end of the Devil and the beginning of your Resurrected life. On that Day you will have perfect relief from all tension, nervousness and anxiety. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Matthew 6:34
 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
 Revelation 21:1-5
 Ecclesiastes 7:8
 John 3:16
 John 14:14
 John 11:25-26
 Matthew 6:19-21
 Philippians 4:6
 Romans 8:26
 Jude 1:18-22
 Mark 12:30-31