Summary: For next year and every year beyond it is as easy as 1,2,3, Repent daily, remain on the right path and rejoice in your salvation
December 31, 2015
New Years Eve
Grace mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Even though the start of the New Year is somewhat arbitrary – it could be any day – and is a secular holiday - it does provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the past – the unexpected surprises, the unexpected changes, the highs and the lows, the good and the bad --- It gives us an opportunity to think about the the future without worry because we trust in God. It gives us an opportunity to number our days so that we get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12) The treadmill stops for an evening and we can relax and reflect on how we are safe and secure in the arms of God.
In our first reading today, the prophet Isaiah is preaching God's word roughly 740 years before the incarnation of the living Word or, more commonly, the birth of Christ. Our increasingly secular world now calls this “before the common era” or BCE. This is a topic for another evening. In some of the verses immediately preceding our reading ( 8-14 ) Isaiah, speaking the truth in love, calls the people of Israel a rebellious people unwilling to listen to the Lord's instruction and he calls them “deceitful.” ( 30:9 )
They try to silence the prophets, they scream “ Give us no more visions of what is right.” Just tell us pleasant things – prophesy illusions.( 30:10 ) Leave this way, get off of the path and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel. ( 30:11 )
So, New years Eve 2,755 years ago sounds familiar. Isn't this what people are saying today? “Stop confronting us with the Holy one of Israel”
We say this as a nation and as individuals for there are national sins and individual sins.
On January 12 President Obama will be giving the state of the union address. These addresses can be entertaining. Everyone is all smiles. As the president makes his points, various factions applaud and /or stand showing their agreement. Some remain stoic in disagreement. It can be quite the show featuring everybody, in leadership, who is anybody attending.
Imagine Isaiah giving the State of the Union address to our assembled leaders and nation on January 12 instead of the President. How many smiles would there be, who would applaud in approval, who would be standing in support?
Who would remain stoic? Imagine if he were preaching here tonight. Would God's word afflict us or comfort us?
The White House shamelessly illuminated in the colors of the homosexual agenda, celebrating public sin, says it all. It boldly states “stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel” It boldly states we do not care about what God says. We will decide what is right for us. How would this prophet of God view a narrow Supreme Court vote sanctioning this abomination. ?
The subject of bats came up in one of our adult Sunday school classes a few weeks past –the creepy flying kind as opposed to baseball bats --- ( see what you miss when you skip Sunday School ) --- What do you think Isaiah would say to a nation that provides legal protection for bats but allows over 1,000,000 of it's pre-born citizens to be murdered each year?
Isaiah tells us “your salvation lies in repentance. ( 30:15 ) You must turn from your ways. You must return to the path.” A right relationship with God brings the ability to be calm.
Daily we are called by the Holy Spirit to repent - to return to the path. Each Sunday as a group we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. More personal is the wording used in the Service of Corporate Confession and Absolution found in Lutheran Worship. This version reads, in part, I, a poor miserable sinner, confess to you all my sins and iniquities and ask God to be merciful to me. In this version, each we is changed to I and each us becomes me. With this version there is no blending into the crowd. As followers of Christ, as believers in His name, we are called to repent daily. Isaiah says if we don't repent - our sins will become like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that will collapse in an instant. ( 30:13 )
The Gospel reading for today reinforces this. Be ready, do not be defiantly dead in sin when we meet the Holy one of Israel. Remain on the path of Christ, not the path of Satan. There is no middle ground, There are no neutral positions. God's word tells us if we deliberately keep on sinning, no sacrifice for sins is left. It tells us that only a fearful expectation of judgment and raging fires await the enemies of God. (Heb 10:26-27))