Sermon for New Year’s Eve – Dec. 31 2020

+ New Year’s Eve – December 31st, 2020 +

Isaiah 30:15-17; Romans 8:31-39; Luke 12:35-40

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“God is For Us”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Whenever our family would go to the Oregon Coast growing up, I remember my dad telling my sister and I, “Never turn your back on the Pacific.” And for good reason. Breakers would roll in. Left. Right. Double stacked. One after another. Wave after wave. If you didn’t keep your eye on the ocean you’d most likely end up with the waves against you. One wave knocks you down and just when you try and get up you get knocked back down into the wash machine current again.

 

I imagine for all of us – in one way or another, and perhaps in more ways than one – this year 2020, has felt like it feels to get knocked over by a sneaker wave on the shores of the Pacific. As if the waves of the world are against us. Perhaps to the point of wondering if even God himself is against us.

 

St. Paul mentions some of those waves in our reading from Romans this evening. Waves that the saints in the first century felt pounded by as well. Suffering. Tribulation. Distress. Persecution. Famine. Nakedness. Peril. The sword. Earlier in this same chapter, Paul says that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs.

 

“Not only that,” Paul goes on to write, “but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” 

 

I’ve always found it helpful that when Paul wrote these words to the saints in Rome, he doesn’t name the exact kind of suffering or tribulation they were going through. He doesn’t define what their distress or persecution looked like, only that they were enduring it. Suffering it.

 

Why is that helpful you might wonder? For one thing, it’s comforting to read the Scriptures and know that we are not the first Christians to have endured wave upon wave of difficult days. We are not the only ones in the history of the Christian church to have lived in times of great danger and distress. From history we know some of what our brothers and sisters in Christ in Rome endured. But not all. And yet, Paul says, we are not alone.

 

Not only do we share with them in their suffering, but more than that, Paul writes, “The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. The Holy Spirit makes intercessions for us.” When we know what to pray for and especially when we do not.

 

And there’s been a lot of that this year. Plenty of not knowing. Plenty of waiting. Wondering. I’m sure a fair amount of worrying too. Like breakers rolling one on top of another, pounding us with distress, despair, and tribulation.

 

And that’s another important reason why Paul doesn’t get specific in the kinds of distress and suffering and weakness he writes about to the Christians in Rome in the first century. For our Lord also sent him to write to you here in the 21st century, wherever this year has found out feeling like a little kid being battered by the surf.

 

We have been knocked down by waves of suffering, distress, and tribulation. A pandemic of disease. A pandemic of worry. A pandemic of despair and doubt. A pandemic of political unrest. And underneath it all, the real pandemic of sin, of life in a fallen world.

 

Although we probably haven’t suffered nakedness, famine, or the sword this year, we’ve certainly feared those things. We’ve seen a rising tide of peril and persecution that comes with life in a fallen world surrounded by fallen sinners.

 

And perhaps greatest of all, when standing before the awesome lighthouse of God’s Word, he reveals the deep abyss of our own sinfulness. It is a treacherous whirlpool of iniquity. A churning tide, a raging storm inside each of us.

 

And yet, our Lord does not leave us to float adrift. He will not let us be drug out to sea. He saves us from drowning in our own sin.

 

St. Paul writes to declare to the saints in Rome, and you tonight, that the Lord Jesus, the great Captain of your salvation, has come to redeem you. Rescue you. Restore you.

 

For There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

 

And make no mistake. You are in Christ Jesus. Baptized. Redeemed. Rescued. In Jesus, God is not against. God is for you. If anything in life ever causes you to doubt or question that, you need look no further than the manger where he was born for you and the cross where he died for you.

 

Jesus, who entered the raging storm of this fallen world and let wave upon wave of our sin fall upon him on the cross in our place. Jesus, who stepped into the flood of our sin that he might soak it all up like a sponge, take it to the cross where the Father would wring out all his wrath upon him, in order to give us safe harbor and an eternal haven in Jesus. Jesus, who was baptized in fire and blood on the cross that we might be baptized in his name, into his death and resurrection by water, word, and the Spirit. The same Spirit who intercedes for you.

 

Whatever we have endured this year, whatever comes this new year, this we know. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. God is for us. And God is with us in Jesus, Immanuel.

 

If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 

 

 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 

 

 No. In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, [nor Covid-19, nor political unrest, nor economic uncertainty] nor anything else in all creation, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

A blessed and happy new year to each of you…

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977