Twentyfourth Sunday after Pentecost

1 Thessalonians 5:5-6
For all of you are children of light and day, not of night and dark; therefore we should not sleep as the rest, rather we should watch and be sober.

            Careful. A word I say often to Nathaniel as he waddles around. Watch out! A sentiment we are very aware of under these COVID restrictions. Be careful when you go to the shops, cautious and aware. Sanitise your hands, wear the mask, if you’re at all sick stay home and get tested. The kids at school know it; watch out or COVID will get you!

            It reminds me of another warning, one from so many years ago we struggle to count them. The Lord said to Cain, ‘why are you angry? … if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. (Genesis 4:6-7). Watch out or sin will get you. And 2000yrs ago Peter sent out this letter to the faithful, ‘be watchful and sober-minded. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8). Watch out or the devil will get you. But there is something far greater than our enemy, far more powerful than any sin. The Day of the Lord is coming.

            Judgement day; the final revelation, in Greek: apocalypse. When Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31f), the foolish virgins cast out, the wise ones brought into the wedding feast of the Lamb! They say are you ready for your death; forget about death, are you ready for this? Do you know who you are? Since Pentecost God has been teaching His church, the Holy Spirit has been speaking to you. Telling you who you are, bringing you wonderful gifts, yet soon the King will return from His journey to settle accounts. Did you hear who you are? Who God declares you to be? Who He makes you to be in Jesus? … Do you hold on tight to the gifts you have been given? Relying on Christ, on God’s grace, on His love for you? … or are you worn out, loosing energy and sight of the goal, just as our country is becoming lazy with our COVID restrictions?

            Today the Holy Spirit is telling you and me, to wake up, to know who we are, to know what is to come. Some may refuse to listen, some just throw away Gods gifts, like those at night in deep sleep, or drunk running from their problems. But you are not of the night, not of darkness. Your sin, darkness has been taken away from you, your failure has been dealt with by Christ crucified. You have been made anew in Jesus by His washing in Baptism, by His Most Holy Blood in Communion. Brought into His light, guided by The Holy Spirit, you are children of the day, you are the light of the world ()! And since we are children of the day, since we belong to the New Day in Jesus, let us not give up hope, let us not loose heart, you are forgiven, you have all the Heavenly hosts on side. Let us be aware of who we are everyday, our heart on our sleeve, showing Christ’s love and faith to those around us, always knowing, even thinking on our wonderful hope of salvation.

For God did not destine us to anger, to wrath, but rather to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. This salvation, separation from your failures and union with God in Jesus with peace, joy and love; this salvation given to you today through the absolution returning you to the grace, the gifts, of your baptism, and through Christ’s very body and blood given and shed for you, forgiveness and union with Christ. Know this, you have been saved. You are already one of God’s people, awake in the light of Christ. This is who you are, child of God our Heavenly Father, coheir with Jesus our Lord and Saviour, friend of the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life. As awesome and terrible as the Day of the Lord may be, as we hear from the prophets, us who are united with Christ in His death, will live together with Him. Encourage each other with this, build each other up! I need reminders of who I am because of Jesus, of what is truly important; and I’m sure you do too. So encourage each other, speak with each other and the other Christians you know about the faith, the wonderful gifts of God, His promises to us all. Children of God, Baptised into Life, you are Christ’s! Go in peace, love, and joyfully serving and praising Christ Jesus, your Saviour!

And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now to life everlasting. Amen.

Pastor Joseph Graham.