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Many Lights are Brighter–Together! December 13, 2017

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Romans 15:4-7

Second Wednesday of Advent

December 13, 2017

 

Focus:  God gives us hope in the midst of darkness through His Son.

Function:  That the hearers shine in the darkness.

Structure:  Concordia Pulpit Resources Advent Midweek 2, vol. 28.

 

Many Lights are Brighter—Together!

 

Several of you recommended it, so this Monday evening Hannah and I took the girls over to Christmas in the Park.  They love Christmas lights, and the neighborhood we’re staying in right now doesn’t have any.  It’s just…dark.  So as we drove down, they were looking out the windows, picking out the businesses with lights up.

And when we got there, it starts out pretty empty, still dark.  As you sit in the bumper-to-bumper traffic waiting.  There’s an elf here, another elf there.  A few sailboats, but it’s pretty mild until you get near the back of the park.  And then you come to the point where they actually have you turn off your headlights.

Now, I was driving, so I couldn’t see the look on the girls’ faces, but I know they really liked it.  Eliana was mad when we left, she wanted more lights that she could point to and yell at.  But it was neat to see all the lights up, and all the work that must’ve gone in to designing and putting on that display.

But we were there, in the midst of darkness, to see a great light.  I don’t have to describe darkness to you.  I don’t have to teach you about what the darkness is in this world.  You know it.  You live in it every day.  You see the anger, the hate, the pain, the suffering, the fear, the greed.  And it’s only grown in our particular culture over the past couple of generations as we have distanced ourselves from the true light that is in Christ.

Many Christians today live in fear of the darkness.  They look around themselves and they see the spiritual and moral decline.  They wonder how bad it can get.  And they worry if it will harm them.  Will persecution come to me and my family?

If you’re in that place right now, there are many brothers and sisters in Christ who’ve been there with you.  We can remember the prophet Elijah, despairing as he thought he was that last follower of Yahweh on earth.  We can remember Job, as he lost everything around him, family, friends, worldly possessions.  We can look to Jeremiah, a prophet who was rejected and condemned at every turn by the very people that God sent him to serve.

Yet, these men all have something in common.  While they lived in the midst of darkness, their hope remained.  Yahweh reminded Elijah that he was not alone.  He comforted Job and was with him to overcome Satan’s temptations of despair and doubt.  He continued to speak His Word unto Jeremiah to give him renewed hope each day.

The Scriptures are that source.  As we try to combat against the fear, the despair, the darkness, we can’t do it alone.  But we aren’t alone, we don’t have to fight alone.  Paul encourages us to look to our Old Testament, to see endurance and encouragement.  These things are attributes of God that He gives to us.

All of the Old Testament does the same thing, it all points us to Christ.  And so we can’t talk about endurance without Jesus.  We can’t talk about encouragement without Jesus.  What gave the people of the Old Testament, people like Elijah, Job, and Jeremiah, what gave them endurance?

It was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  He is our hope.  And that’s not just any hope.  Earthly, American hope can’t get you through tough times.  Sure, hoping for ice cream at the end of your shift might help get you through it.  Wanting that sweet taste, looking forward to it when you get home can give you a little boost to get your work done.  But an ice cream cone isn’t going to get you through getting laid off.  It isn’t going to get you through losing your livelihood because you don’t buy into the agenda of the culture.  It isn’t going to get you through the illness of a loved one.

Because it’s not real hope.  The author of the letter to the Hebrews gives us a different definition.  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for.”   Biblical hope, hope rooted in Christ isn’t just a “want,” it’s a guarantee.  We aren’t just hoping for a white Christmas.  We have full certainty that our hope in Christ is real.   That the promises of Christ are real.  And that they belong to us.

In this way, your faith isn’t blind.  You see the promise, and you cling to that promise.  This is what gave our Old Testament brothers and sisters endurance.  They could put up with the darkness of the world around them entirely because they knew that no matter the outcome, they had a Messiah, a Savior who would rescue them from that darkness, the great light of the world, Jesus Christ.

Our brothers and sisters in Christ in other areas of the world today endure things we can’t even imagine.  Even to the point of martyrdom.  But they endure, they endure in faith knowing that their hope is not in vain.  Knowing that their hope in Christ, their faith in Christ, will be rewarded.  That no earthly darkness can rob them of the everlasting life promised to them in Christ alone.

Just as they are, we are encouraged daily by God Himself.  We are encouraged in our faith when we read, mark, and inwardly digest His Word.  We are encouraged together in our faith, when we come together to hear the forgiveness of sins in the words of Confession and Absolution.  We are encouraged together, built up in our faith, when we see another child added into the eternal kingdom of Christ, just as we will this coming Sunday, when Regina is baptized right here.  We are encouraged together, hope renewed, when the body and blood of Christ overflow from the cross and this altar for the forgiveness of our sins.

It is through these things, through His Word, through His sacraments, through His promises that our hope and our faith are strengthened, that we may endure whatever the devil and our own sinful flesh throw our way.

But we are like Elijah.  We need that reminder that we aren’t alone.  That we’re not in this alone.  We are part of God’s family, and we have one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.  If Christmas in the park was just one light bulb, it wouldn’t be very bright.  There wouldn’t be many people who would see it.

But when you start adding more lights, the brightness grows.  And more and more people see the wonder of the display.  Alone, you are still a light in the midst of darkness, a light enduring in Christ.  But together, we are an even brighter light, encouraged by Christ that we can give His light to others.  As His church, we are a burning light in the midst of darkness, bringing hope to people who have none.

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Comments»

1. romans82800 - December 14, 2017

Thank you for sharing. If you have time. Please read my new blog BelovedinHissight.com Merry Christmas and A Blessed New Year!


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