Advent 2 2018 Fr. Michael Cawthon
In the Collect this morning we read “Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning;
Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them”…
and in the Epistle we hear “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning …
and then the Gospel speaks of coming of the son of man…”for your redemption draweth nigh.”
As well we read of Jesus cleansing the Temple because the people had made God’s house “a house of thieves.”
And now this morning, in the Gospel of Luke, we read a portion of Scripture which speaks of the coming of “the son of man.”
Luke even tells the Christians that the “Kingdom of God is nigh at hand”
and He encourages them as He tells them “that His word shall not pass away.”
Last week – I hope each of you read Deuteronomy 28, as I asked, to see the blessings of obedience and curses of dis-obedience.
The Old Testament ends with the birth of Christ (and the temple destruction in 70 AD)
and the New Testament now begins.
As I mentioned last week, many still preach of the Great Tribulation as being
the dreadful “last days” which will bring the curses of which are spoken in Deuteronomy 28,
and reinforced in Matthew 24.
The Revelation of St. John, and even this reading from St. Luke’s Gospel today,
warns that “the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
The people to whom these tribulations were written, were the Christians of that day:
(Paul plainly states in 1 Cor. 10:11 that “the end of ages has come”
and in Hebrews we read “he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin (9:24-26)
and finally in Revelation 1:9 John says “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in Tribulation.”)
Today the words of tribulation often are preached in a manner which promotes fear, and when misread
can lead to a fear of God that keeps people away from God – thus His love.
The biblical writers knew that they were living in the last days (as the Old was about to become the New.)
The Christian faith, when lived properly, is to one of joy and hope
and not of fear and anxiety.
The blessings of obedience in Deuteronomy offer us, even today, strength and power to over-come the “desires” of disobedience.
So understanding “the last days” and “the end of times” as already occurring,
allows us to move forward in confidence within the Love of a Great and wonderful God.
Yes, He is a wonderful and loving God that St. Paul writes of … to the Romans (xv: 13)
“Now the God of hope fill you
with all joy and peace in believing,
that ye may abound in hope,
through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
These are the things for which Christians strive:
hope in the promises of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
which brings a joy and peace,
which arise from the joy of knowing our wonderful and gracious God
and from the peace of consciences / which arises from His promise of Salvation.
This is fruit … of our faith – a hope, a joy, and a peace
which is not temporary,
as are things of this world,
but are eternal and everlasting.
Hope, joy, and peace – this is what is supposed to fill the soul of a Christian (no anger and anxiety should be found here.)
Fear that blocks out the Love of God is of Satan, and fear was not the purpose of Christ dying upon the Cross.
He gave of himself that you might receive His Glory – this is the source of all hope, joy, and peace.
Christians should be a people of good cheer and charity.
Hope, joy, and peace, which all are filling and rewarding; unfortunately have become cheapened.
Carnal joy loves to puff up the soul, but it cannot fill it;
Therefore, even in laughter, the heart is so often still sad.
True heavenly and spiritual joy is nourishment, and fills, the soul;
and has a satisfaction within it, and is answerable to the soul’s vast and many desires.
Thus, it is God who replenishes and fills the weary soul
for all those who truly and earnestly seek and accept the unmerited love of His Grace.
Thus we join David as he writes in Ps. 4:7
“Lord, lift thou up, the light of thy countenance upon us.”
Now hear the words of Jesus in this morning’s Gospel as He encourages all of His faithful disciples,
in reference to the terrors of that day,
“when these things come to pass”
(as Jerusalem is besieged and everything is concurring to the destruction of the Jews)
“then do you look up”
(when others are looking down,)
yes look heavenward, in faith, hope, and prayer,
and even in the darkness are we to
“lift up our (your) heads”
with cheerfulness and with sure confidence,
“for your redemption draws nigh.”
Christ has come to redeem you (to cure you) because he loves you.
He will redeem all that are his, from all pain, sufferings, and grievances.
This is the pleasant foresight for Christians who accept His Grace and strive to walk in His ways…
This promised of hope, and joy, and His peace to Christians
is the same promise offered to us;
and is the same one offered to wicked and ungodly,
to whom it is terrible and to be feared, for the anxiety which such doubt brings.
For us here today, let us go to God with “hearty repentance” and “true faith”
for it is His will that we become, and remain,
a replenished people full of His spiritual joy and peace which arises from His Glory.
It is His love for each of you that will strengthen your faith if you allow His Spirit to enter into your heart, soul, and mind.
In His Love is a spiritual and a substantial joy, which is the fruit of a lively and holy Christian faith.
Take this step forward today, and once you do, watch as your faith, yes your life, blossoms in His Light
as you develop a true, honest, and loving faith which will allow you to rejoice, for this new joy is unspeakable
(and is described in 1 Peter 1:8)
Whom having not seen,
though now ye see him not;
ye rejoice with joy unspeakable
and full of glory.
Now, go forth and do so…
The hour cometh is now is….