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Let us keep the lamps lit

Luke 12:35-40

Pastor David Ernst

New Years Eve
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Mon, Dec 31, 2018 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Tonight we conclude the old year and, God willing, we are all going to greet the new year in the morning. This past year I turned 60. For someone of my age it is easy to understand the brevity of our lives in this world. I hope that one day you young people will understand that nobody has much time here. I have lived in Venezuela for 15 years. I have seen some of you grow from children to adults. But, this 15 years was just part of my life. For children one year is a long time, for those who have celebrated many birthdays, 10 years pass fast. And how many decades are there in human life?

Psalm 90:10 says: "The days of our age are seventy years; and in the most robust they are eighty years old, yet their strength is annoyance and work; because it is cut short, and we fly. "

What is the purpose of this life? To be born, grow up, marry and die and nothing else? The Bible says no, physical death is not the end of our story. We will go to eternity to live with Christ where it there will be no passage of the years, nor struggles and trials. But, for now, we are here, for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, to bear witness that He has done for us. The new life began when God called us by name at baptism, but we look forward with confidence to the fulfillment of the promise of eternal life in this world amidst its difficulties. As our hymn says, heaven and earth will pass away, but His Word will not pass away.

In our text we have an inversion of the parable of the 10 virgins (Matthew 25: 1-12). The 10 virgins waited with their lamps for the groom’s arrival to light the way to the wedding house. In the text for tonight, the servants await the return of their master from a wedding with lit lamps and the whole house prepared. "Let your loins be girded, and your lamps kindled, and you be like men waiting for their lord to return from the wedding, so that when he comes and knocks, they will immediately open him up." It does not matter if it is the second vigil of the night, or the third vigil, or any hour. The servants must keep their lamps lit and the rooms clean.

The Christian life is like that. We must stay alert and sober until the return of the Lord. We can make our plans, mark birthdays and enjoy the blessings of this life. But what is important is the life that is to come. God loves us. He also wants to bless our plans and see the growth of our families.

However, above all, the Lord sacrificed himself on the cross to win for us the promise of eternal life. And the belief that all other things will happen, only this promise will last forever, is a source of joy for us. We do not fear the future because in the end we will receive eternal life.

We are in a time of crisis. But, this crisis will pass and during all God will be with us. Therefore, we have peace and joy inside our souls, no matter what is happening around us. Today many people ask, what hope is there for Venezuela? But I believe God has a plan for Venezuela and for each one of us.

As Christians, to be prepared for the return of the Lord is to remain in the faith, to listen to the Word and to receive the sacraments. We will live as children of God until the return of the Lord and show the love of God to others. This faith, love and hope will never be lacking. Amen.

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