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BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz

Nov 12, 2017  SERMON ARCHIVE

Sunday Sermon - Pastor Lavrenz Stained Glass - Communion

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Amen.

The text for our meditation today is the Gospel Lesson for this 22nd Sunday After Pentecost, Matthew 25:1-13. There we read these words:

"Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Dear Christian friends: One of the things that you do, that all of us do, all wait.

In fact, think about it. A lot of the time, all you do is wait. A man sits in a parking lot, drumming the steering wheel while he waits for his wife. His wife waits in line behind the lady with all the coupons. Toddlers wait to be the big kids.

Adolescents await the mirage- the mirage of the independence they will have in their teenage years, only to arrive and discover that teenagers also must wait while their dreams and life and peer pressure pummel them. Gardeners wait for seeds to grow; then they await harvest; then they await the springtime planting again. Workers wait for retirement. Musicians wait for their big break. Doctors and patients wait for the body to heal.

If you will wait for it, this sermon will end. To the observer, waiting is mundane and useless and irritating. Thirty seconds of waiting at the traffic light usually means that you pull out your smart phone.

Even the microwave moves too slowly and sometimes it is better simply to eat cold food. Dangerous risks become acceptable when you grow tired of waiting—just ask the guy who passes you at 70 miles per hour on Grouse Ave.

Stained Glass Baptism Window

All you do is wait, and waiting seems a colossal waste: What has been done is what will be done. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9, "There is nothing new under the sun."

There is some relief. At least the Scriptures add some significance to your waiting. In fact, the Scriptures are full of expressions of waiting, and these expressions want you to know that your countless hours of waiting are not nearly as useless as they feel.

Your waiting has eternal importance: Thus it is written: Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:14). I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, yes, more than watchmen wait for the morning (Psalm 130:5-6). Blessed are all who wait for Him! (Isaiah 30:18). It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord (Lamentations 3:26).

[We] wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). [We are] waiting for our blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us (Titus 2:13-14a). In today’s Gospel: "the kingdom of heaven is compared to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. [But] the bridegroom was delayed."

In light of these glorious things, perhaps there is a new approach and a new perspec-tive you can take in viewing your perpetual waiting for everything. In other words, as Christians, perhaps you can look at the same things everyone else in the world is looking at, but maybe you can begin to see them in a whole different way.

Here are some examples of what I mean:

What does the unbelieving world see when it looks upon an infant child in his mother’s arms? It only sees an infant child in his mother’s arms. A Christian can look at that same child and see a living reminder of what our infinite God has done for us: descending from on high, humbling Himself to be born of a virgin, packing all of His limitlessness into the tiny frame of a newborn child.

What does the world see when it looks into the caskets of its dead? The world sees something that has ended forever. Christians see something that has only just begun!

What does the unbelieving world see outside its window on a cold winter’s day? It sees a winter wonderland in the newly fallen snow. A Christian can look out the same window and see a fresh sample of that Word and promise God has spoken to you through your Lord Jesus Christ: "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18).

Stained Glass Confirmation Window

The world sees a starry night and the potential of an alien invasion; you can perceive the glory of God and the carefully-crafted work of His hands. The world sees springtime flowers; you can see reminders of the resurrection. The world sees a pine tree or a juniper; you can see an evergreen symbol of that life you have in Jesus that cannot end.

You see, the world is waiting, but it has nothing to wait for. The world is drowsy and bored on account of its waiting. And that drowsiness deadens peoples senses and boredom breeds unspeakable trouble as the world experiences more and more. Everyone waits. In fact a lot of what every single person in the world does is wait.

But God has so transformed your hearts and minds (Romans 12:2) that your waiting can now be ANYTHING BUT a waste.

All daily waiting—from waiting to grow older to waiting for your kids at a ball game— all daily waiting is a picture and a symbol and a rehearsal for the one and only thing that really matters; the one and only Person for Whom we all truly wait.

In Christ Jesus, your daily patience can become something more than a personal virtue that only other people seem to have in greater abundance than you do.

Your daily patience can be and is a confession of faith in Jesus Christ the One who is coming back to take you to be with Himself.

Wait upon the Lord, dear Christian friends, and keep your ears tuned in the direction of the sky:

At midnight there was a cry, "Here is the Bridegroom! Come out to meet Him!" The Bridegroom came, and those who were ready [those who were there waiting] went in with Him to the marriage feast.

Christ is risen. And He is coming soon.

Luther Rose


Christ Is Risen
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