Trinity 25 (2013)
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
November 10, 2013
Central Passage
Matthew 24:15-28

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

I do not want you to be uninformed about those who are dead, that is, those who sleep. I don’t want you to grieve as those that have no hope. At the cry of the Lord, the dead in Christ will rise and we who are left shall meet them in the air and so we shall be with the Lord forever.

When you think fondly of yesteryear, of your childhood or maybe when your kids were little and life seemed simpler and not so harried, you become nostalgic. You drift away in your mind to times long gone. In truth you drift to ideals that only exist in your mind. If you were to truly travel back as you are now, you would see that your parents had as many toils and troubles as you have; that when you were younger there was no lack of trial and trouble. Your parents were just as worried and concerned over things as you are. Maybe different things, but the worry was the same. The consternation and difficulty was the same. It always has been.

There’s never been a gold time or a better time; neither shall there ever be. Not until Christ returns, that is. Then the culmination of the Year of Jubilee will be forevermore upon us, and it will be glorious! But for the now, there is nothing new under the sun; toil and trouble.

 I watched a special the other day on TV on the assassination of JFK, which sent me on an internet rabbit hole scouring a host of speeches and addresses made by men of great renown. Men such as JFK himself, speeches of Lincoln, Cicero, Socrates, and other great men of action. Do you know what they all had in common? Everything. They all lamented the great trials facing the people of their day. They all spoke of the future as being secured today. They all spoke of the strength of the past and the resolve of the present to bring about a better tomorrow. All of their speeches could be put in the mouths of our leaders and politicians today, as today’s speeches are nothing if not yesterday’s words. Only the names and faces have changed. But where is this better tomorrow that so many generations have fought so fervently for; for which so many men have made so many impassioned speeches?

Some will say that it is better today than it was years ago, for example, because we have civil rights and better medical care. And that’s good. (By the by, the fight for gay marriage is not a civil rights fight for gays and lesbians. It is a civil rights fight, but not for them. It’s a fight for the civil rights of children, which gay marriage categorically denies since children cannot be the product of a gay union. But anyway...) Civil rights and better medicine, and all the gifts of our Creator are good. But hate crimes and crimes of racism are still around. Hatred is still here. A government, no matter how well-intentioned, can’t get rid of the hatred, envy, greed, and lust of sinful man. Which is why all the great speeches need to be repeated every generation. Every generation is inflicted with as much hatred, envy, greed, and lust as the one before it. Your parents and grandparents, and ours also. So all the great speeches of men say in essence the same thing: Yesterday was slightly ignorant; today is in the know and must harness the singular opportunity before us so that the future will be secured.

The fact that these speeches are made in every generation is proof that the very thing they seek to bring about – a better tomorrow – is a reality that cannot be achieved. If it were achieved then one day such speeches would no longer be needed. But our children and grandchildren will hear the same speeches. There is nothing new under the sun, and what JFK said to the nation and to the world in 1961, was really only what had been said during the 1940’s, and the 1860’s. They are words that pierce the heart and soul of every man and woman because they are words of hope and of resolve. They are words of patriotism and grand idealism. They are words for men not meant to die. So our hearts resonate with them because we are men that were not meant to die. Christian and pagan and heathen alike are inspired by the words of Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, and Patrick Henry, words of life and hope, freedom and glory!

But men do die. Which is why these speeches must rise again with every generation. Some more pointed, some less so, but every generation gives and hears the speeches of honor, valor, gallantry, and of the future glory of well-fought wars and even well-planned retirements. They promise what we hunger for; they declare what we thirst for, that the future is ours.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. The future is ours. It belongs to Jesus and to His Church. It is not won on the backs of soldiers or carried in the ink of philosophers, but is won on the cross of Jesus and in His wounds, and is written in the ink of His blood.

The Christian, insofar as he is a citizen of the world, would do well to listen well to the speeches of his generation – or better, to the speeches of past generations. But the Christian does far better to listen to the words of the Word become flesh. For the speeches of this Man are not for honor or glory in this life or in the kingdoms of men, but for honor and glory in the kingdom of heaven. The perseverance of the saints is not for lines on a map or for gold in the hills or for cheaper taxes and better health insurance; the perseverance of the saints is for the new heavens and the new earth. Blessed is the one that preservers to the end (cf. Matt. 24:13).

And to persevere, one must hear with ears to hear. So listen, O sons and daughters, listen to the voice of your Good Shepherd. Do not go out to those who say, “Look! Here is the Christ!” or “There He is!” Do not listen to those who preach peace when there is no peace. Do not listen to the false prophets and preachers that deny the God-man, that deny the reality of sin, that deny the reality of death and hell; who would lead you astray by appealing to your reason or emotion to carry the day. Do not be fooled by those who preach a God that does not judge or pardon. For while there is liberty with the God of judgment, it is liberty from sin, death, and the power of the devil, and not liberty from God Himself. And those who find themselves liberated from God and His judgments quickly find themselves chained to Satan and his hell.

Hear your Lord: for the sake of the elect, the days are cut short. For your sake. How do you know you are elect? Because you pray with all the saints, “Come, Lord Jesus, come!” You receive what He gives and do not shrink back from what He offers. And what He offers is persecution for His name’s sake. He offers hardships and troubles from this world and from the kingdom of Satan. He offers crucifixion and martyrdom. And in these things He offers the glory of immortality. Glorious is God with His angels and saints.

So go, my children, with my blessing, never alone. Go to your homes and your jobs, your family and your friends. Go and bless for to this you are called that you would obtain a blessing. Bless and do not curse. Forgive and do not hate. Have mercy for you have received mercy. And rejoice. Above all and in all things rejoice. For your King comes to you not in wrath but in grace and peace. He comes not to exact a tax, but to pay you in dividends of righteousness. He comes to feed and clothe you, to keep and protect you by His Word of peace with God through His blood. He comes with the voice of an archangel preaching the good news of the Kingdom. He comes; the Lord comes.

+ In Nomine Iesu +