Saturday, November 28, 2009

C, Advent 1 - Luke 21:25-36 "Turn Up The Volume"

Text – Luke 21:25-36

"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in a cloud' with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. "Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."


Where's that jolly noise coming from? It's driving you crazy! That rattle in the car you never seem to locate, or the bumping sound under the bonnet! Those cats fighting outside! Hidden by the stealth of darkness! That mosquito with its radar set to seek, somewhere above your face, so it seems, with its high pitched sonar. Or perhaps it's those rowdy neighbours having a party with their music turned up to test the most peaceful of neighbours.

Then there are noises which might be an annoying distant din at first, but then grows to reveal a fury that just might prove to be fatal. Tsunami, bushfire, earthquake, cyclone, a severe electrical storm, or anything which turns hearts to jelly and announces something horrendous is about to happen.

These noises, regardless of them being just plain annoying or even something worse, are sobering as they bring us out of slumber into a consciousness that demands we address the reality of the situation immediately.

Maybe the rattle in the car demands you stop to fix the problem. So you turn up the volume of the radio to drown out that funny noise coming from under the bonnet.

And those jolly cats! So you get out of bed and get the broom to chase them off. Or open the gate to release the hound, who's also been woken by the horrible din of cats snarling and sneering at each other outside your window.

The mozzie squealing makes you clap your hands in the darkness, hoping you get the little blighter. But no, you hear him still! But then he stops! Is he on your face? Your ear! You wack yourself in the head eager to kill the mozzie, but sure as anything you lie there half concussed from hitting yourself and then in its own time that mozzie begins its sonar seeking squeal once again.

Or it's two in the morning and all you hear is thump, thump, thump of a booming bass beat that makes it impossible to sleep. What do you do? Put your head under the pillow? Do you stuff cottonwool in the ears to block out the noise? Or do you get up, turn on some noise of your own, seeing you can't sleep!

One person's noise is another person's nightmare! So what noises do you create, do you enjoy, at the expense of someone else's serenity?

Most of the similar noises we make, as a group of human beings and as individuals, drown out what we need to hear from God. In fact, our noise is a nightmare! Not to God though, but rather to ourselves! Yes! God doesn't like our noise, that's for sure! But the noise we create is at our own expense, and it brings imminent chaos on us and our creation.

But why are humans so hell-bent on creating such noise? Noise which deafens and threatens to destroy us! One might understand the accidental noise we inadvertently make. But we humans go to great lengths creating deliberate noise which only turns up the volume on our nightmares.

We create such noise, knowingly and unknowingly, because our natures want to block out God and his noise. In our natural state of being we don't want to have anything to do with God. And so many go to great lengths to create noise to distract their consciences from hearing and knowing there is someone greater who is almighty and infinite and is the author of all things.

Then there are those who accept there is a God who has created and still sustains all life. But they still make noise, refusing to hear God who announces to them that they need to be accountable to him. They think God has made us only to cut us free with unlimited boundaries so we might no longer look to him for anything.

But still some know he exists, and seek to remain accountable to him. Nevertheless they turn up the volume so they can't hear God announce to them they are sinful, and that left in their natural sinful human state of being they will experience God's anger if something doesn't happen to unplug the noise of sin in their lives.

And again, some realise they are sinners; they know God exists, and seek to remain accountable to him. But instead they make an ungodly sound as they seek to work off their sin. However, no matter how much noise they make, regardless of what type of song and dance they do, they will never do enough to earn the serenity of salvation from their sin.

And so we come to the reality of God's noise. The noise of a mother heavily pregnant as she labours on a donkey, and in the stall amongst the animals! The noise of a baby born at Bethlehem as it takes its first gasp of air and cries for its mother's milk. This is the noise of God's own Son descended into the midst of our noise, our trouble, and our sinful reality.

And God continues to make his noise! He calls you to trust he who came into his creation capable of making much noise, yet was silent, submissive, and sinless to slaughter on the cross. God calls you to know that although Christ Jesus was silent about his innocence, he cried out in suffering as he carried the nightmare of our sin which we all should be suffering. This is the noise of death, every generation and every person must undergo as a result of the sinful human nature.

This noise of ours became Jesus' nightmare! So busy are we to rid ourselves of God, but instead Jesus got what our human nature fights for. And having heard the "sound of true silence" Jesus cried out "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34) And God withdrew letting Jesus die under the deafening din of your sin, and my sin too!

Now, on the other side of Jesus' death, God's noise still remains! Having raised his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, "the Word made Flesh" now lives in all who believe and are baptised into him, in the name of the Triune God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Knowing God has done all this for you, his noise is not something you should fear. Your death is now only a temporary glitch on your eternal radar!

But, on the other hand, silence from God is all one can expect while continuing to reject his word and busy themself with noisy nightmares ending in eternal death minus the love of God.

So as God turns up the volume of his word, his noise is a noise with which we can joyfully resonate as we're brought in time with his death and resurrection through his Word of eternal life.

In the last days Jesus promises he will come again and things will happen in creation that forecast this! Just as the fig tree sprouts new leaves as a sign of summer coming, Christ's second coming will be expected for those who avail themselves to hear his Word.

Severe events in the natural world will occur to sober all of us sinners to the reality of his Word. And with these events we will witness chaos in the hearts of people who have tried to block out the noise of God's coming, and his Word.

As God turns up the volume of his return God call you to stand up, lift up your head, look and know that the kingdom of God is near. And all the more as his creation groans as a result of our sin, yearning for the final release promised since the day Christ's blood flowed into the earth from the cross.

He also warns you to be careful, to watch and pray so you're not overburdened by the noises and anxieties of life which can weigh you down with dissipation and despair and cause you all sorts of terrors as we see God shaking creation before he comes in the clouds.

But not so for us! When you witness these things beginning to happen, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near, the kingdom is near, and the king is coming to take you home! Amen.

May he (the Holy Spirit) strengthen your hearts (with the Word of Christ) so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones, Amen!