Monday, December 7, 2015

Who controls time controls all. . .

Sermon preached for a Thursday weekday Eucharist, on December 4, 2015.

Who controls the clock controls everything.  It is a statement of the obvious.  You know that and you don’t need me to tell you.  Anyone who has watched a close game when the team which is ahead runs down the clock knows the truth in this.

But what we often forget is that the clock was not always as essential to us as it is today.  Once in the Garden, Adam and Eve lived in blessed ignorance of time and its passage.  They did not care about the days or weeks or months or years.  They had no need to count off the hours or the minutes.

When the devil entered to deceive, his goal was to steal away this blessed oblivion and make the clock the most important of all our possessions.  He did so by enticing our first parents from obedience to rebellion, from trusting God’s wisdom to second guessing God, until the bite bit into the foul taste of death and then suddenly every moment mattered.  Scripture tells us that death has reigned from Adam to us and over all those born of woman.  There is no escape.  Who controls the clock controls everything.  So the devil snickered.  Sin was the trigger and death the bullet.  Banished from Eden, the clock began ticking down the end of our brief lives with glory short of God's design and our desire.

Until Christ came in flesh and blood to be made subject to the same ticking time bomb of mortality.  He entered our humanity and made Himself subject to our birth and our death.  He willingly surrendered His forever for our precious moment.  Yet He did so not simply as victim like us but as offering to pay death’s awful price and release us from the grip and grasp of time.

That is why the church year is so important.  Advent tells us Christ is near, Christmas tells us Christ is here, in Epiphany we trace all the glory of His grace, Till the Sunday lead through Lent, telling us we should repent, then in Holy Week begin earnestly to mourn for sin, Friday good and Easter then tell who died and rose again, so that happy Easter day, we might follow in the way, sin and death once marked us dead till Christ arose and went ahead, that where He is, soon we shall be, in heavenly glory eternally. 

We cannot allow the world to steal back into our hearts and minds the threat of death, the fear of the end, and the tyranny of the clock.  For freedom Christ has set us free.  If we order our lives by the world’s calendar, we are doomed to its tragic, brief, and lost life -- to a past that cannot be recovered and a future uncertain.  So we order our lives by the calendar of Christ’s life and Word, as a way of keeping before us what Christ died and rose to win.  Freedom, perfect freedom, where death no longer claims us, the grave becomes a door, sin’s stain is bleached out by the blood of Christ, and life no longer has an end.

So the start of a church year reminds us.  We belong to the Lord.  Death has no more power over us.  We died already in baptism and we live now the new life that death cannot overcome.  We will lay these bodies into the grave, for sure, but not without hope.  For from those graves we wait for our own joyful resurrection, for the glorious new flesh that Christ already wears, and for the unimaginable future God has prepared for those who have loved Christ’s appearing.

Christ is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, time and eternity now belong to Him.  What had been held captive by the devil was set free by our Lord’s death and resurrection and that includes you and me and the span of this life and the gift of eternity.  This is where our lives are hidden now while the clock ticks down the end of time for the devil, the world, and all of God's enemies... but NOT for us.  We are in the world but not of it, citizens of an eternal and abiding city!

The church year is our new clock, it beats with the rhythm of new life.  It keeps us close to Him whose death killed death and whose resurrection planted the seed of our own everlasting life.  Who controls time, controls everything.  So, whose clock ticks for you?  The clock of the devil winding down to its end or Christ’s that restores today as gift and bestows upon us the surprise of eternal life? That is the question that begs our attention as we end one church year and begin another.  Amen

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