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2 Timothy 3:1-9
 
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. (ESV)
What's It Like?
Wednesday of Pentecost 25
18 November 2015
The blessed dead, those whom we love (not loved, because it's not a past tense thing), those whom we love now see what we presently only hope for. And we become as close to them as anyone can be, here surrounding this altar. Lutherans, you've heard it a thousand times and you'll hear it a thousand times more, "Therefore with angels and archangels and all the company of Heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious name, evermore praising thee and saying, Holy, Holy, Holy."

You want to go to heaven, do you? Of course! That's why you are in the divine service of the church. By faith. There you are there surrounding the throne of the Lamb and He is enthroned upon this altar. You are surrounded by the great company of believers who have confessed unto death, the great martyrs and apostles are present (Heb 12:1). You just don't see them. And that's the way of the Christian religion. All given because God says so, not seen because God hides it. All for our sake.

Someday I'm going to get to Poland. Don't know when that's going to be. And when I go, I'm going to see the Chapel of the Skulls. It's a Christian chapel whose interior is decorated with the bones of the dead. Every square inch of the place is a skull, or a femur, or some other human remain stuck to the walls and ceilings. And first, we think, in our macabre culture, "What a great place for a Halloween party!" We've missed the point. This isn't a fearful place. It's a fearsome place that reminds us that those that have died now surround us. Remember in ancient Rome when the Christians hid in the Catacombs and worshiped there to get away from the Roman government? (These days may be coming again.) What did they do? They filled the Catacombs with skulls and bones; the skulls and bones of the blessed dead. It reminded them they were surrounded by angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, despite the fact that they were worshiping in these horrible tombs.

And so our blessed dead are not the ghosts and ghouls of Halloween but the shining suns of the morning (Dan 12:1-3). We know where they are and who they see and who we worship with when we gather here around the altar.

 

Martin Luther

"Now since we have such a treasure, we have everything and are lords over all lords. On earth we are beggars, as Christ Himself was; but before God we are bountifully blessed with all good things. In comparison the world is poor and destitute, nor can it retain its goods without us. I, on the other hand, have abiding goods in the hour of death; for I have the Lord Christ Himself, who sits enthroned in heaven above. But in that hour you will be obliged to depart naked and bare, and you will not take as much as a thread with you. And up there you will be bereft of all property, even though you were a mighty king and owned all the goods of the world. A Christian will not leave one bit of his goods behind; for he already has his treasure in heaven, in and with Christ. Thus St. Paul states in Eph 2:6 that God has already 'made us sit with Him in the heavenly places.' To be sure, this is not apparent now; but on the Last Day all the world will see the riches and the eternal glory of poor Lazarus in heaven. At the rich man's door he did not have the crumbs that fell from the table. Now the rich belly, together with all the unbelieving world, will lie in everlasting fire and burn." 

Martin Luther, Sermons on John, 14.22 
 
Prayer
Almighty God, You who will bring the world to its proper conclusion, grant that we who live in this broken world would look forward to Christ's return with hope and confidence in our ultimate rescue; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

For the Mission Summit of the LCMS, that those who attend would be energized by the opportunity to discuss the relationship between education and proclamation

For first responders, who serve the public, that they would be kept in the arms of Jesus as they serve the needs of the suffering and destitute

For over-the-road truck drivers, that they would be kept safe in their travels as the holy angels watch over them
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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